SR 509 shootings task force created after boy in car shot in head, blinded

BURIEN, Wash. — A task force has been created and law enforcement are holding a news conference Thursday after a series of incidents where cars or homes were shot on a stretch of SR 509 in the Burien-SeaTac area.

Until last month, the most notable incident happened on June 13, 2018, when four cars were struck by gunfire on southbound SR 509 near Des Moines Memorial Drive. Officers shut down the highway, swarmed the area and searched for an active shooter for hours, but no suspect was found.

>>Related: Active shooter search along SR 509 near Sea-Tac Airport

No one was hurt in that incident, but the most recent shooting on Dec. 20 left a boy without sight.

Troopers say that at about 11 p.m., a family was driving southbound on SR 509 just south of the First Avenue South Bridge when the front passenger window of the family’s vehicle was shot out.  A 14-year-old boy was hit in the head and subsequently lost his vision.

While troopers say injuries to the boy may not have been intentional, there have been other reports from people in the area who said their vehicles or cars have been struck by gunfire over a period of months. Police said they are investigating 11 random shootings.

Police don't know if one person is responsible or several.

PHOTOS: Shooter opens fire at cars along SR 509 near SeaTac

The other incidents occurred in the area of SR 509 and South 160th Street in the Burien area, south of where the boy was shot.

To allow for a unified investigation of the various cases, a task force has been created that includes the Washington State Patrol, King County Sheriff’s Office, and Des Moines and Port of Seattle police departments. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be assisting.

Investigators believe there are people in the community who have information about the shootings and ask anyone with information of any kind, even if it seems insignificant, to come forward and let law enforcement decide if the information is relevant.

The boy in the Dec. 20 incident was the first person to be injured in one of the SR 509 shootings and it is not known if the shooting is related to previous ones along the highway.

Troopers say the person who shot the boy “may not be aware of the consequences of his/her actions,” and after learning that the child was hurt, may display certain behaviors, such as:

  • Sudden unexplained mood swings
  • Intense interest in media coverage
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Withdrawal from social or daily activities

Anyone with information about any of the shootings, or who has had property hit by gunfire in the area, is asked to call 425-401-7880 or email SR509shootingtip@wsp.wa.gov.  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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