by: Joanna Small Updated:
RENTON, Wash. - Five people were shot outside a south Sound bar early Sunday morning, and police say there's a strong possibility gangs were involved. They tell us there were likely multiple guns and multiple shooters in the parking lot of the Upper Nile on Renton Avenue South in Skyway. One of the five victims has life threatening injuries.
"I heard all this pop, pop, pop, pop, and I said 'Whoa somebody is popping fireworks,'" Smitty Smith, who lives nearby, told us. But it was gunshots that woke up neighbors around Renton Avenue South and their Sunday morning began with a drive past dozens of evidence placards, at least one bullet hole, and sheriff's deputies trying to piece together how and why nearly a half dozen people were shot here.
"One is too many; five is way more too many,” DB Gates, with the King County Sheriff’s Office told us at the scene.
At least three of the five shot in the parking lot of were hospitalized. Someone drove the most critical victim to the nearby 7-Eleven; there was blood inside the car, the store, and on the pavement. The Sheriff’s Office says so far none of the victims are talking.
"No one is really being cooperative with us at this point,” Gates explained.
The spot where the shooting occurred used to be a Kenyan dance club with a troubled past. KIRO 7 dug into archives and found in the last six years when it was still Club Afriq there were at least two shootings in or near there, one of them fatal. The community hasn't forgotten.
"It happened before,” the man who owns the coffee stand across the street told us. He’s been open in that location for 19 years.
"The one before this one and this one it seems like it's always something going on,” Smith said.
Upper Nile refers to a state in south Sudan. People who live and work here say it's a popular hang-out, particularly for Sudanese people. They don't necessarily want it gone-- they just want it safe.
"We want a safe community. Everyone wants to be feel safe when they lay down tonight and go to sleep,” Smith concluded.
The Sheriff's Office says the victims are adult men and women. They do not have any suspects and they are asking anyone with information about what happened to come forward.