‘Very unusual and disconcerting’: violent crime up in Ballard neighborhood

SEATTLE — Violent crime in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood is up, according to the latest Seattle police data from its crime dashboard. But the latest numbers don’t even capture the recent string of shootings in about a half-mile area of Ballard in March.

There have been at least four recent shooting incidents, with three that ended with someone shot. Meanwhile, businesses are also coping with property crime.

Here are a list of recent shooting incidents:

3/28: 14th Avenue Northwest and Northwest Leary Way — 53-year-old man shot in abdomen

3/22: 17th Aveue Northwest and Northwest 53rd Street — 39-year-old man shot in neck

3/20: Eighth Avenue Northwest and Northwest 47th Street — drive-by shooting, no one hurt

2/15: 15th Avenue Northwest and Northwest Leary Way – man shot in hip

“Gun violence in Ballard? It’s very, very unusual and disconcerting,” said Shawn Telford, a Ballard resident.

People in the neighborhood say it seems like something has changed recently.

“The vibe is absolutely different in every way,” said James Callaghan, who said he has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years.

It has some wondering if a police crackdown on crime in downtown Seattle at Third and Pine and the Little Saigon neighborhood is pushing illegal activity to other areas.

“Definitely it feels like a new element has moved into the neighborhood. It’s been not that great for a while, but it’s a lot less than not that great now,” Callaghan said.

In an email, Jamie Housen, spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, said gun violence data is being monitored.

“The City is tracking crime data on a regular basis and at a granular level, but would not draw a link between crime and gun violence from other parts of the City and Ballard without more evidence. As we track crime and gun violence, we will deploy emphasis patrols, activate gun violence prevention efforts, and prioritize areas most impacted, including Ballard, in our work moving forward,” Housen said.

Violent crime data from the Seattle Police website shows the number of violent crime incidents for January and February of 2022 have reached 42 cases. That’s the highest number of violent crimes for this two-month time frame in at least 14 years, or the furthest back SPD data is readily available.

Neighbors say it means they’re being a lot more cautious.

“Even short trips to the grocery store I’m going to take my car — because if I have my kid, I don’t know. Our town just doesn’t feel very safe,” Telford said.

Meanwhile, businesses are also continuing to struggle with property crime.

Begin” is a new handmade jewlery shop on Ballard Avenue. They opened up six months ago, but just this month they’ve dealt with multiple break-ins.

“We had four incidents in three weeks, so it was like one thing after another,” said MK Byrne, the store owner.

In the most recent incident last week, the shop had a window cracked. Byrne decided to stay at her shop overnight to keep guard.

“I was really angry and spent the night here with my dog in the store. And it was early in the morning about 5 a.m., and someone came in broke the window,” Byrne said.

Surveillance video Byrne shared showed the moment a man crawled through the window and started grabbing merchandise. Byrne decided to face the thief herself, with her dog at her side.

“We chased them out just by throwing things, and they left without taking very much,” Byrne said. She said as a new business, a serious loss of inventory could shut them down for good.

“For me, this is something that’s so precious, sacred, and such an incredible opportunity. I put everything I have into protecting it and making sure that we can do this,” Byrne said.

Despite all the recent challenges, businesses and people say they are still hopeful.

“I feel really supported and I’m really in a community that’s invested in it’s future,” Byrne said.

“I think it’s too early to tell really. But that being said, I really admire this mayor’s stance on these issues. Seems to be taking it much more seriously and proactively than we’ve seen in the recent past,” Telford said.

Councilmember Dan Strauss, who represents the Ballard area, said he’s working with the mayor and city attorney’s to respond to this area seeing more gun violence with “every resource available.”

The mayor’s office said a representative will be meeting with Ballard businesses later this week.

Mayor Harrell’s office also said in a statement:

“Mayor Harrell believes that small businesses deserve support, safety, and peace of mind, and that continued crime and gun violence are unacceptable. The mayor is working every day to develop and implement comprehensive, sustainable, and multi-faceted public safety strategies that serve neighborhoods in need.”