Police: 5 injured after shots fired at illegal street racing event near Kent

Kent police are investigating after five people were injured in a shooting at an illegal street racing event early Sunday near the Kent and Renton border.

According to Renton police, officers were investigating a crash at South Carr Road and Talbot Road South at 1:15 a.m. when a patrol sergeant heard gunfire coming from the area of West Valley Highway and South 180th Street. The intersection had hundreds of racers and spectators, police said.

When the sergeant and other Renton police officers arrived, they found five people who had been shot on the Kent side of the intersection.

The Renton Police Department said it also responded to a shooting involving racers the previous night in the same area.

Kent Police told KIRO 7 at least five adult men are recovering at local hospitals in the area. It is not clear at this time what condition each victim is in. Kent Police also said what led up to the shooting is still unclear, but they continue to investigate.

KIRO 7 saw Kent Police comb the area where the shooting happened late into Sunday evening. Neighboring business owners say this sort of activity is getting out of hand in that area specifically and wish more can be done to stop illegal street racing events from continuing.

“But it’s a safety issue. You know, I don’t want my employees leaving 2 or 3 a.m. and going out when that stuff is going on,” said Ben Rhodes the general manager at Spot Sports Bar. “And my number one priority is keeping my employees safe. And when they are leaving and that stuff is going on you never know what is going to happen.”

Since the shooting happened within the Kent Police Department’s jurisdiction, it will be handling the investigation.

On Monday, Kent Police released the following statement:

Kent Police Detectives continue to investigate the shooting incident that took place Sunday (5/21/22) morning around 1:17am. The incident occurred at S. 180th St and East Valley Hwy. A large group was actively participating in illegal street racing conduct by blocking intersections and the roadway. While this activity was occurring, 5 adult males from surrounding cities, who were in attendance of this illegal activity were reported shot. They were transported to local hospitals. The details surrounding the sequence of events that led up to the shooting are limited at this time as detectives continue their investigation.

Illegal street racing continues to impact the valley, the region, and many parts of this nation. These events have escalated with a disregard for public safety, property damage, and dangerous criminal behavior. The City of Kent and the Kent Police Department have continued to strategize on ways to combat this ongoing problem. Our tactics have changed in response to those who promote, participate, and spectate these illegal events. We will continue to aggressively leverage the current state law as well as our established city codes. These laws prohibit attending street races anywhere in the City of Kent, reckless driving, disorderly conduct, and trespassing.

Mayor Ralph and Chief Padilla have invested a significant amount of energy and commitment on educating legislators and testifying in front of committees for law changes like Senate Bill 5606. They are grateful for the legislators that assisted in passing this legislation. It was signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 4, 2023.

These new laws take effect on January 1, 2024, and provide clarification and help in impacting illegal street racing. These clarifications are new tools that will aid us in our enforcement of this illegal activity.

• Updates the definition of gross misdemeanor racing in RCW 46.61.530 to include drifting and other stunt driving,

• Racing is a crime on both public roadways and upon any private property that is publicly accessible,

• Anyone who aids/abets illegal racing may be charged as an accomplice,

• Clarifies that racing charges can be prosecuted in either the jurisdiction where racing occurred or where the event was planned, organized, & promoted,

• Encourages law enforcement agencies to undertake a public education campaign about the dangers and illegality of street racing,

• Updates state impound laws to allow vehicles used in racing to be impounded with a 72-hour hold, and

• Allows for the seizure/forfeiture of racers’ vehicles upon a second or subsequent racing conviction.

A copy of the full bill is here.

“Kent is doing more in terms of an active investigation than probably any other jurisdiction,” said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph about cracking down on the recent street racing. “We’re going after the organizers. That’s the part that nobody sees. We’re working on prosecuting the people that are organizing the races because there’s a way to stop it today, but that means it’s going to happen tomorrow, and then there’s a long-term approach. And so we’re using both of those approaches.”