Many in Central District concerned over stray bullets as area sees spike in violence

SEATTLE - A spike in recent shootings in the Central District, especially when it comes to drive by shootings, is concerning.

Some of these cases have been crimes of opportunity, according to Seattle police.

Recently, an innocent woman was injured in one of the shootings near Garfield Community Center.

Gun violence is nothing new in the area but city leaders say this time around it feels different.

“The fear of getting hit by stray gunshots at any moment, these are neighborhoods that have kids and families,” said council member Lorena Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez says she is hearing from people who don’t feel safe after hearing shots fired. Even if those gunshots didn’t hit anyone, it still creates fear in a neighborhood.

Gonzalez called on Seattle Police for some analysis Thursday night.

“We’ve added emphasis patrols,” Deputy Chief Marc Garth Green said.

Last month, bullets struck three men, killing 19-year-old Royale Lexing in the Central District.

“They are driving through an area, they will get out of the car and shoot and jump back in the car,” Garth Green said.

Seattle Police say in Lexing's case gang members were involved, but it's unclear if the teenager was even the intended target.

“Until we can have cameras in high profile areas people are shooting people in the daytime because they know they won’t get arrested,” Rev. Harriett Walden said.

The people at Thursday’s public meeting know it will take more than just cameras or law enforcement.

“Can we think creatively more and more,” Council member Bruce Harrell said.

Harrell suggested the city learn from former gang members on how to engage young people from going down the wrong path.

Other community leaders say programs need to be long-term with specific milestones.

“I am tired of going to meeting after meeting and we go back to our normal routine, after this meeting we have to keep this going,” Victoria Beach with the African American Community Advisory Council said.

Gonzalez says the meeting is just the beginning of holding different city departments and the community accountable.

“I have a sense of urgency around this,” Gonzalez said.

Many different department heads attended the meeting, including Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle Parks & Recreation, SDOT and City Light.

They vowed to do their part to make the area look and feel safer.

Parks & Rec, for example, said some of their efforts will be focused on Garfield Teen Life Center, summer camps and youth employment.