SEATTLE (CN) — A 16-year-old boy was killed and a 14-year-old is in critical condition after a shooting overnight Monday in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone.
The two were in a vehicle that apparently tried to drive through barricades surrounding the area known as CHOP, but police have given no further details on suspects or about what led to the shooting.
The investigation is “fluid” and detectives are searching social media and hoping someone will come forward with information, Police Chief Carmen Best said at a press conference held Monday at the scene.
It was also “abundantly clear” that evidence had been removed from the car, she said.
“Enough is enough here,” a visibly frustrated Best said.
Four separate shootings have occurred in and around the CHOP with one fatality on June 20.
“Two African-American men dead at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter but they’re gone. They’re dead now. And we’ve had multiple other incidents — assaults, rapes robbery, shootings — so this is something that’s going to need to change,” Best said.
Demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed during an arrest by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day, have set up camp around a Seattle police precinct after officers left the building during clashes three weeks ago.
City officials at first attempted to appease the demonstrators by refusing to intervene as protest organizers set up dozens of tents in a nearby park, painted murals on buildings and set up a makeshift free grocery “no cop co-op” in the streets by the abandoned precinct.
The city also provided water stations and portable bathrooms.
On June 12, CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in an interview on Friday how long the streets will be occupied by protesters.
“I don’t know. We could have a summer of love,” Durkan responded.
The city’s relaxed attitude changed as violence in the area increased. After the June 20 fatal shooting of a 19-year-old high school student, some officials and local residents criticized the continued occupation of streets and demanded the area be cleared for safety.
Police and emergency responders could not enter the area after the shooting, which left another man wounded, due to hostile protestors.
Seattle police released a body camera video showing an officer yelling into a bullhorn, “Please move out of the way so we can get to the victim! All we want to do is get to the victim!”
Demonstrators blocked the officers and shouted the victims had already been taken to the hospital by volunteer medics in the zone.
Durkan said at a press conference June 22 that police were going to return to the precinct “peacefully and in the near future.”
She added: “It’s time for people to go home.”
The pace for removal was too slow for some residents and business owners, who filed a class action June 24 claiming illegal taking of property. They plan on asking for injunctive relief.
Durkan spent last week attempting to negotiate a voluntary departure with protest organizers and met with them Friday at First African Methodist Episcopal Church in a meeting closed to the media. Her office has not commented on what was said at the meeting.
CHOP organizers want the Seattle police budget slashed by half and the immediate removal of qualified immunity for officers, in addition to other police reforms before they agree to peacefully leave the protest area.
City workers showed up Friday morning to start removing street barricades but were met by protesters, who blocked Department of Transportation trucks. The workers eventually drove away.
Durkan has not commented on the latest shooting or the progress made on removing the demonstrators.
Seattle City Council President M. Lorena Gonzalez said the shootings should not be blamed on CHOP and were instead a reflection of larger society.
“Gun violence is a public health epidemic across the country. Seattle is not an exception to the plague of gun violence within our communities and this is not being caused by a specific zone within our city,” Gonzalez said at a City Council briefing.
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