Teen shot in Seattle's 'CHOP' protest zone declines police interview

For the second time in less than 48 hours, there was a shooting in Seattle’s “occupied” protest zone, but the 17-year-old victim declined to speak with detectives, leaving the circumstances of the shooting unclear, police said Monday.

The shooting happened late Sunday night in the area known as CHOP, for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.” It occurred in Cal Anderson Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood as demonstrators who had marched from the zone to the police department’s West Precinct downtown were returning there, officials said.

As with a 2:30 a.m. shooting in the same park Saturday that left a 19-year-old man dead and a 33-year-old man critically injured, responding police and emergency medics staged at the edge of the protest zone before going in, police said.

And again, volunteer medics inside the zone brought the victim to the hospital in a private car rather than wait for the police and fire departments.

“To ensure the safety of medical personnel, police staged with Seattle Fire at the edge of the CHOP area and were gathering information about where the shooting victim was located when they learned he had been transported in a private vehicle to Harborview Medical Center,” police said in a blog post Monday.

The 17-year-old was treated and released and declined to speak with detectives, the department said. Investigators asked anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.

The CHOP zone is a several-block area cordoned off by protesters near a police station, an area that was the scene of clashes after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Seattle riot squads unleashed tear gas, pepper spray, less-lethal projectiles and flash-bangs on large crowds of mostly peaceful protesters, drawing condemnation from many city leaders and a temporary federal court order banning the use of the weapons on demonstrators.

After police abandoned the East Precinct building there, protesters took over the area — with demonstrators painting a large “Black Lives Matter” mural on the street, handing out free food, playing music and planting a community garden. Its existence incensed Republican President Donald Trump, who criticized Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats.

In a statement Sunday night about the first shooting, Durkan noted that thousands continue to gather on Capitol Hill. Peacefulness prevails during the day, but at night the atmosphere changes, she said.

“It is the City’s responsibility to maintain the safety in these circumstances in all parts of Seattle, including the more dangerous conditions on Capitol Hill in the evenings,” Durkan said. She said the city will continue to make changes on Capitol Hill in partnership with community organizations, business and residents.

“I believe together we can create a Capitol Hill environment that allows for peaceful demonstrations,” she said.

The earlier shooting also remains under investigation. Police said there was no immediate description of the suspect.