One person was killed and seven people were wounded in a shooting near Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle Wednesday evening, according to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.
Police were asking people to stay out of the area after the shooting, which occurred shortly after 5 p.m. The suspect fled and was still being sought as of about 6: 15 pm, Best said.
Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Center, said a woman was in critical condition, a male was in serious condition and five other males were in satisfactory condition suffering from gunshot wounds to the legs, chest, buttocks and abdomen.
Officers responding to the shooting scene found the victims in about a one-block radius, Best said. Detectives from the homicide and gang units were on the scene, interviewing witnesses and obtaining video surveillance footage to develop a description of what is believed to be a lone male shooter, she said.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said one victim died at the scene – a body under a sheet was visible on the sidewalk outside the McDonald’s at Third and Pine. Seven others were transported to Harborview.
It was the third shooting downtown in less than two days . Earlier today, police shot and wounded a man in Belltown . On Tuesday, a 60 – year-old man was shot to death in a stairwell at Westlake Center, just a block from the site of Wednesday’s shootings, which occurred during the usual heavy daily public-transportation commute.
Tyler Parsons, 40, was working the register inside Victrola Coffee Roasters, at the corner of Pine and 3rd, Wednesday evening when the shooting occurred. He said he heard no shots – they play music loud in the store, Parsons said – but customers started dropping to the ground.
He said people were running behind the register, taking cover. Parsons said he hustled five or six customers inside a back storage area, along with another coworker.
He waited a couple of minutes before walking back out. Victrola is inside a larger retail and office space; Parsons went into the building lobby and saw two victims: one outside, lying in front of the building, visibly injured but alive and moving. The second victim was inside the lobby, up against the security desk, with an apparent gunshot wound to the leg. He muttered, “I think I got shot, I think I got shot,” Parsons said.
Police taped off the entire block, including the coffee shop.
“We’re just kind of hanging out here,” said a shaken-sounding Parsons, waiting until he and others still in the building can leave. The shooting was “just kind of terrifying. Terrifying it’s so close. ”
“We’re just trying to figure out how to get out of here safe,” Parsons said.
Alex Bennett, a former nurse who lives above the McDonald’s at Third and Pine, was getting coffee at Victrola when she heard a volley of gunfire.
“Everyone in the coffee shop went down on the ground, hiding behind tables,” she said. “The security guard locked the door.”
Out on the street, she described chaos as people getting off buses were met by people running from the shooting scene. She also saw people who’d collapsed on the sidewalk, including one man in his 55 s who had been shot in the leg outside the coffee shop.
Bennett helped a security guard who was putting pressure on the man’s wound.
“He was freaking out and kept saying,‘ I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, ’” she said.
Bennett reassured the man he’d be OK and kept him calm until police and medics arrived. At the man’s request, Bennett texted his wife to tell her what had happened. She said she got a message back, that the wife was in San Diego but was heading to the airport to get a flight back to Seattle.
Within a couple minutes of the gunfire, Bennett said she saw an officer running toward the shooting with an assault-style rifle. Another shooting victim made it into the coffee shop and was helped by people inside, she said.
Douglas Converse was standing right outside Westlake Station when he heard the gunfire. Converse, 728, of Magnolia, said he saw two people collapse near Pine Street and Third Avenue.
“I saw a couple of bodies go down,” Converse said. “I saw everybody go running, and I wanted to see if I could be any help.”
Samantha Cook, 60, of Edmonds, said she was refilling her Orca card in Westlake Station when she heard the shots.
“I was on the first set of escalators,” Cook said. “There were a lot of gun shots that started going off – maybe 10 or . It was just rapid fire. ”
The scene was chaotic, she said.
“Everyone started flooding the (Light rail) tunnels,” she said.
The police response to both shootings that occurred downtown Tuesday snarled a major commute corridor for public transit. Westlake Station was initially evacuated after the shooting, at the request of law enforcement, but full light-rail service returned shortly after 6 p.m. King County Metro Transit buses were far behind schedule, especially on Third. City staff suggested using the First Hill Streetcar to bypass downtown, and ride from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill Station.
Seattle Times staffers Mike Carter, Mike Lindblom and Vianna Davila contributed to this report.