Police leaders blame 'prevalence of guns' for recent Seattle violence

Map of 2012 Seattle shootings (*Red markers indicate fatal shootings)


SEATTLE -- The end of the holiday weekend didn't quell the city's recent rash of gun violence, as even more shots rang out in South Seattle on Tuesday morning.

The spike in violence that has plagued Seattle of late led some city leaders to openly question whether police are doing enough.

Police leaders went by the numbers at a special safety briefing before the Seattle City Council on Tuesday, recounting the toll of violence that left two men dead, another injured and a entire community rattled.

"Estimated over 60 rounds were fired," said Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz. "This weekend is a perfect example, unfortunately, of why we had stepped up our emphasis patrol operations."

In addition to Saturday's shooting at the Folklife festival, there were two murders and four gang-related drive-by shootings. Police told the council that extra patrols will remain in high-crime areas until further notice.

But Councilman Tom Rasmussen has doubts about the plan.

"What's going to change?" he said. "I mean, why do you think these strategies are going to work? We've heard about these strategies before, we've tried them before."

Commanders took the council's criticism in stride.

"It's not really criticizing, I don't think," said Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh. "I think he's just saying, 'Hey, we've been there, are we missing something else? So go ahead and look at something else. Try new options.'"

Sixteen people have been killed so far this year with only seven arrests made, not counting two cases that were cleared.

"The best answer I can come up with right now is the prevalence of guns," Metz said.

The murder of Justin Ferrari has prompted a public safety meeting at the Garfield Community Center on Wednesday. Meeting organizers say police are doing what they can to react to crime, but they believe prevention will come from community programs that give at-risk youth more options.

"I do think that we need more support for empowerment programs for young people. I think they need better choices. I think that those kinds of programs are underfunded, they're low priority," said Stephanie Tschida of the East Precinct Advisory Council.