Seattle community members reeling after event meant to curb violence erupts in gunfire

SEATTLE — Gunfire erupted during a safety event Friday night, aimed to curb violence. It happened around 9 p.m. in the Safeway parking lot off Rainier Ave South. The gunfire sent community members running for their lives, into the grocery store for safety.

“This guy laid down close to the door and everybody all ran inside the Safeway until the gunshots stopped,” said Mustafe Addi.

Mustafe was inside the Safeway when the shooting happened, and saw one of the victims lying bleeding inside. That victim was one of five people shot during a Seattle Community Safety Initiative event.

“I’m struggling because this event has happened for two years now and as I said, the violence has been deterred tremendously because of our presence here,” said Urban Family Executive Director, Shantel Patu. “To have so many of our own team members that were involved as far as being shot, that’s something we’re having to deal with as a team.”

The event, ‘Be Safe Brosb’, happens every Friday since 2021 when the safety initiative began. The Boys and Girls Club of King County is the organization in charge of the Southeast side of Seattle. The initiative began in response to violence in 2020, it’s also aimed to “strengthen community connections and neighborhood safety for Black and Brown neighborhoods in Seattle and South King County.

Two of the five people shot are Boys and Girls Club employees.

“These community leaders are putting literally their lives on the line to protect their own community, trying to protect their babies here, trying to protect our youth,” said Seattle’s Mayor, Bruce Harrell.

“This situation just kind of puts it back in our court if you will, that we need to find ways to protect our team as well as manage these situations. And I mean protect our team with vests or something,” Patu said.

Four of the five victims were taken to Harborview, and two of them were in critical condition. As of Saturday afternoon, two had been discharged. The two in critical condition are considered stable.

Police still don’t know why the suspect(s) opened fire. They believe there are at least two shooters, but don’t have any suspect information. Seattle’s Chief of Police, Adrian Diaz, said Friday night his officers have recovered more guns this year than any year before they started tracking the information. They began tracking the data, 15 years ago.

“We’re having incidents throughout the week. We have kids that are walking around with AKs and assault rifles and this is only going to continue to escalate if we don’t get a handle on it,” said Patu. “It’s time for us as residents and as community members to start looking at what’s in our homes, what our kids are getting access to.”

The Boys and Girls Club of King County released this statement in the wake of the shooting:

On Friday, July 28th, two of our staff from Boys & Girls Clubs of King County and three other individuals were injured during a shooting at the Rainier Beach Safeway parking lot. We are deeply saddened by this traumatic incident, and we are working to actively support the victims and their families. We are cooperating fully with the authorities in their investigation.

Over the last three years, our Safe Passage Team has hosted a Community Healing Space Activation every Friday in that location without incident. These Activations provide hot meals and resources to community members and create a safe space for grieving, healing, and connection in response to community violence.

It is particularly devastating that this act of violence is in direct contrast to the purpose and mission of this space. Our community warriors put their lives on the line every day to ensure that the members of our community are safe. This incident has magnified the issue of gun violence in our neighborhood, and it will take ALL of us, working together, to combat this public health crisis. We at Boys & Girls Clubs remain committed to working with youth, community members, community partners, law enforcement, and public officials to end gun violence. - The Boys and Girls Club of King County