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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Police responded to three times as many shootings in first two months of 2021 compared to past years

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 25, 2021

Spokane police investigate a deadly shooting on June 23 at the intersection of Monroe Street and Augusta Avenue.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane police investigate a deadly shooting on June 23 at the intersection of Monroe Street and Augusta Avenue. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

In 2021 so far Spokane police have responded to triple the number of shootings recorded in the same nearly two-month period in 2020, 2019 or 2018, according to data provided by the Spokane Police Department.

Spokane police sent out a news release Tuesday noting 26 shootings since Jan. 1, but by Wednesday, police had responded to two more shooting calls.

At least seven reported shootings in 2021 have been drive-by shootings, according to the release. For comparison, during the same period last year, police responded to seven shootings overall, data from the department show.

In the same period in 2019, they saw nine shootings and in 2018 they counted eight, according to the data.

“The biggest problem is we are not getting cooperation from witnesses or victims,” police spokesperson Julie Humphreys said.

Many recent shootings appeared to be gang-related, and many involved juveniles, Humphreys said.

It’s hard to tell how many shootings have resulted in injuries, she said, because, in some cases, victims avoid the hospital and police.

Washington state law requires hospitals to report gunshot wounds, and police say shooting victims have often tried to treat themselves at home before going to a hospital.

During a May 2020 gang-related shooting, several teen victims tried to take care of their injuries at friends’ homes before seeking a doctor’s care, according to court documents. Seven months later, one of the suspects in that shooting, 18-year-old Daunte Frazier, was killed by a gunshot accidentally fired at a party.

Humphreys said police don’t normally see random drive-by shootings, but they’re concerned about shootings in public spaces where people are more at risk of being hit.

Humphreys pointed to a drive-by shooting last week, when a suspect fired toward businesses near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fiske Street.

“Whether or not they’re trying to shoot and kill someone or just scare them, we don’t know,” Humphreys said. “But you always take a chance, and it doesn’t take much for something to go horribly wrong.”

Humphreys said police are also concerned about the number of teens involved in January and February’s shootings.

To reach vulnerable kids, the department is collaborating with Education Service District 101, an education unit that serves dozens of school districts. Several officers sit on a steering committee for an anti-gang grant awarded to the service district, she said.

“We’re not saying it’s because of COVID and that they’re not in school, but school is sometimes the most stabilizing factor a kid has,” Humphreys said. “That’s part of what we’re looking at.”

The Spokane Police Department Major Crimes unit and the regional Safe Street Task Force, made up of officers from several agencies including the FBI, are working together in investigating the shootings, she said.

Police ask anyone who has knowledge about a shooting to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 or anonymously submit a tip at stopspokanegangs.org.

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