SPD Chief Diaz: ‘More work to do’ on downtown safety after shooting that killed pregnant woman

SPD Chief Adrian Diaz update on deadly Belltown shooting that killed pregnant woman.

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz spoke to public safety concerns Thursday, following a deadly shooting where a pregnant woman and her unborn child died.

That came in two forms -- first, in the form of a video update in the afternoon, and then later at a public safety forum Thursday night.

The shooting happened on Fourth Avenue and Lenora around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Court documents show the victims are Sung and Eina Kwon. A small memorial now sits at the light where the two were shot, and where first responders tried to save Eina and her baby.

Police arrested a suspect who is due in court Thursday afternoon. In his Thursday update, Diaz acknowledged the difficult and tragic circumstances for Eina’s family.

“We have a suspect in custody, however, no amount of justice will bring that family whole again,” he said.

Speaking to larger safety concerns in the downtown core, Diaz noted that SPD know “this has great impacts to the community, not only the greater community but the Korean community.”

“And I have been in conversations with members throughout the community to make this community safe,” he added. “... We are also running our violent crime strategy as we enter into the summer months, and working with community and putting our officers in the right places where we believe these shootings might be occurring,”

Addressing the suspect’s gun -- which was reported stolen out of Lakewood in April of 2021 -- Diaz said that it’s going to be tested to determine whether it was used in any other crimes.

SPD has recovered 629 guns so far in 2023, which Diaz says is the most the department has ever recovered in the first five months of the year.

“But there’s more work to do,” he said in closing for the video update. “We’re asking to work with you to make sure that we make this community safe.”

IRO 7 asked the Seattle Police Department to address some of the questions and concerns of the community in an on-camera interview after they sent out the short video posted Thursday.

KIRO 7 spoke with Diaz Thursday night. Here’s some of what he said.

Diaz said that even though they made an arrest in Tuesday’s shooting and officers responded quickly.

“I want to make sure that people can feel free to walk down the streets or drive down the streets and they’re not going to get shot,” said Diaz.

Question: Are people wrong not to feel safe?

“You know, it’s hard because when you look at numbers and you look at data like, to me, one is too much, right? And I think when you actually look at the homicides, look at shootings, we’ve actually done a really good job at reducing violent crime, we’re down 16%. The problem is that people don’t feel it. And so it’s hard for me to tell people, ‘Hey, we’re actually doing really good work,’ but if they don’t feel it - I understand that experience.”

“I think right now, we’re working closely with the mayor’s office, trying to make sure we have the right officers in the right places, but really we have to make sure that we work with the community,” he said.

Diaz said that the department has had a lot of support from the community though that wasn’t the way it was a few years ago.

“I feel like we’re making a lot of inroads in the community. We’re working with the community more so than we ever have. And I’m proud of that.”

Question: Where do we go from here?

“I heard from some community members, even in the downtown core, people feel like it’s getting better but then when you have a tragedy like Tuesday, you feel like you move ten steps back. And it’s like how do we regain that level of trust that we’re actually making sure our city is safe again? And right now, that’s the road ahead.”

Question: What do you say to business owners who don’t bother calling the police because it takes too long for them to respond, for instance, when a bullet flies through a window?

“We recover every single round and when we recover those rounds, we test them. And a part of that is when we test them, we are actually able to determine whether that round has been used in other cases...They might feel like it might take a long time for officers to respond, but that might actually help solve another case we didn’t know or didn’t expect. So, I encourage people to always report situations, especially involving gun violence. Especially involving gun casings. If we can find a gun casing, that actually makes a difference. Sometimes we’re able to do fingerprints from the casings.”

Question: Explain the importance of recovering guns.

“We’ve recovered 629 guns (in 2023) and we’re testing every single gun. When we actually shoot it to determine where it’s been used, we’re finding that some of these guns have been used as far as Portland. And maybe even farther. We’re working with ATF, we’re trying to make sure that we’re working with those federal partners to be able to recover more guns and be able to test more guns and be able to solve more cases. And that’s actually going to make the difference when a community member says, ‘I actually feel a little bit safer. I feel like it’s quieter.’ And there was one parent who said around Garfield (High School) that things are getting better. Maybe it’s the (police) presence, maybe it’s just quieter, and school is still in session, so that’s a good thing. But that doesn’t mean that every community is feeling that. So that’s our work ahead.”

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