Seattle police investigate fatal Westlake shooting

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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SEATTLE - Seattle police are looking for a gunman after a 47-year-old man was fatally shot in downtown Seattle early Sunday morning.

Witnesses told police after 2 a.m., two men were fighting at Fifth Avenue and Olive Way. Then they said one of them pulled out a gun and shot the other man.

When police arrived, they found a 47-year-old man dead at the scene. A police spokesperson said the victim was shot once, and that he knew his killer.

Police described the suspect as a light-skinned black man in his early 20s, with a short curly afro; about 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall with a thin build. He was seen wearing a red sweatshirt and jeans.

Seattle residents who talked to KIRO 7 were surprised to hear about the location of the murder. Several of them said they would more typically hear of such an incident in Belltown or Pioneer Square.

Peter Masundire, who happened to be staying at the Westin a block away, said he was returning to the hotel around the same time the shooting happened.

“There’s a lot of business, the hotels; there’s a lot of traffic. I came here last night myself, close to around 2 a.m. I drove in, but I didn’t come this way.”

He said he didn’t see or hear anything, but he said he could have very well taken a different route bringing him right through the crime scene.

Gregory Balch said he usually associates tourists with that intersection, rather than drugs or criminals.

“It’s pretty strange. I mean, I wouldn’t really expect that on a day-to-day basis, especially with all the cars and police that are around. It seems like they’ve been stepping up the patrols around the area,” Balch said.

Seattle police announced increased patrols after residents and businesses in the main retail core raised concerns with growing crime last summer.

Last week, the city announced an expansion of an existing program called LEAD, which sends low-level criminals to treatment instead of jail.

Since October, the Multi-Disciplinary Team, or MDT, has identified people downtown who might be nuisances, but not law-breakers. The team steers them toward social services, perhaps before they would be arrested for a crime. That program will now expand to more parts of the city.