Seattle faces its most violent year in three decades, 70 homicides

Numbers show that Seattle is facing its deadliest year in three decades, with 70 homicides so far in 2023.

On Thursday, Seattle Police responded to back-to-back violent calls.

The first happened around 12:30 p.m. Police say a group of suspects robbed two kids near Garfield High School. One of the suspects pulled their shirt up to reveal what the victims thought was a gun.

Twenty-four minutes later, police said a 21-year-old man was shot and sent to the hospital with serious injuries in an incident near the city's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Police have not reported any arrests in either incident. 

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"It’s out of control. And these kids, gang members that are doing this, they don’t value lives. They don’t care who they hit. And they know it’s a free-for-all right now," said Victoria Beach.

Beach is the chairperson of the African American Community Advisory Council to the Seattle Police Department.

Beach says people living in this city want to feel safe at home.

"They’re afraid and outraged, rightfully so," she said.

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Beach is hosting a community safety meeting with members of the Police, as well as newly elected council members Thursday night.

Beach says the future of the city is looking brighter.

"One thing that gives me hope is our new city council members that are coming in," she said. 

FOX 13 News reached out to the mayor’s office regarding the recent release of homicide numbers. The mayor’s office responded stating gun violence is an epidemic in Seattle. The office stated nearly 79% of homicides are linked to firearms. They say they are looking to invest in new technologies to address violence. For the full statement check the bottom of the article.

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Beach says the problem is bigger than the mayor’s office and city council.

"It’s going to take all of us to work on this, not just the police department," she said.

While everyone can agree that just one life lost to crime is too many, what year is actually Seattle’s deadliest is open to the grimmest sort of academic debate.

Records from the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs point to 1994 when there were 69 homicides in Seattle.

However, Seattle Police tell FOX 13 News that there were 73 homicides in 1993, making that the deadliest year. 

However, a report by the Seattle Times found at least six of those deaths actually occurred in 1992 or earlier – they just didn’t get classified as homicides until ’93.

Here is the full statement from the mayor's office:

This trend of homicides is extremely concerning and shows there is more work to be done to keep Seattle residents and communities safe, take guns off our streets, and hold those who cause harm accountable for their actions. Nationwide, violent crimes remain elevated compared to before the pandemic in 2019. Our office looks forward to working with the new council to help solve these issues.

Mayor Harrell remains committed to a holistic approach to improving public safety and reducing crime in Seattle, recognizing issues created over the course of years cannot be solved overnight. He has made police staffing a priority, advancing a Comprehensive Recruitment and Retention Plan. We have been seeing encouraging signs through these efforts, with an average of nearly 200 people applying each month – the highest rate in over two years.

There is also an urgent public safety need to address the gun violence epidemic which permanently tears apart families and communities, disproportionately communities of color. Firearms have been used in nearly 79% of homicide cases and SPD continues to recover illegal firearms at a record pace – over 1150 by the end of September. Our office will continue to support upstream and community-based solutions to help prevent crimes before they occur through efforts like the Seattle Community Safety Initiative and King County Regional Peacekeepers Collective. We look forward to seeing collaboration between King County’s new Regional Office of Gun Violence Prevention and the Regional Peacekeepers Collective.

We are also piloting new technology solutions to combat increased gun violence. In his budget proposal, Mayor Harrell advanced a Crime Prevention Pilot Project which included three crime prevention technologies to protect neighborhoods impacted by recurring gun violence and collect new evidence to solve crimes. This pilot was sustained in the final budget adopted by the City Council. 

Addressing public safety concerns is an ongoing challenge and will take a multi-faceted approach, and Mayor Harrell will continue to advance innovative, effective, and proactive solutions to help keep residents safe.