At least five murders have shaken up communities in western Washington, just between Monday and Tuesday.
The first incident happened after 12:01 a.m. on Monday. Seattle police say a man was shot and killed at a Delridge homeless encampment.
Then two men were shot and killed in Everett Monday afternoon around 4 p.m., and another was hurt.
A man and woman were shot and killed in Wallingford after 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.
Des Moines police also believe someone committed murder at the Des Moines Station apartments, then apparently dumped the body near the Duwamish River in Skyway.
The violent streak has law enforcement leaders worried that as summer arrives, the trend will only worsen.
“It’s like very nerve-wracking,” said Richelle Richie, who lives in Des Moines. “That’s insane,” she said.
“I’ve never had a gun. But you know, when it gets to your house you kind of wonder, ‘what’s next?,’” said Jim Hill, who lives near Skyway.
King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall doesn’t mince words. She says the situation could get worse.
“There is an uptick normally in the summer. People are outside more, and the trends have shown that,” Cole-Tindall said. “I’m concerned for the community and I’m concerned about our ability — the sheriff’s office’s ability — to actually make a dent or be able to affect some change here,” she said.
According to the King County prosecuting attorney’s office, last year 88 people were shot and killed in King County. That’s compared to 69 people killed in 2020 and 49 in 2019.
In Pierce County and Tacoma, homicide numbers have doubled compared to this time last year, with 17 and 22 homicides, respectively. Two people were shot and killed in Parkland on Saturday.
People say society feels different now.
“We’re coming back from the pandemic and I think that freaked everybody out. Gas is $6 a gallon and people are unsecure. It’s just more violence. People are getting more guns too,” Hill said.
The sheriff agrees there is a social aspect.
“I say it’s a people problem. It’s people that are actually using these firearms. And how do we affect a change in society and society norms?,” Cole-Tindall said.
She also says staffing is a major problem.
The King County Sheriff’s Office currently has 120 commissioned deputy openings — that means it’s down 15% of its force.
“The way we curb some of this gun violence is to have police presence, but it’s very difficult to do that when we don’t have the staffing. We don’t have the bodies,” Cole-Tindall said.
The sheriff says she has managed to protect a key departments from cuts to their street crimes unit, which works to get guns and drugs off the streets. KCSO is also working with community groups to tackle the social aspect of gun violence prevention.
Cole-Tindall also says in her personal opinion, she would support raising the legal age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old.
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