SEATTLE: A pre-dawn shooting in a park in Seattle’s protest zone killed a 19-year-old man and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday.
The shooting happened at about 2:30 a.m. in the area near the city’s downtown that is known as CHOP, which stands for “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” police said.
Officers responding to the shooting initially had trouble getting to the scene because they were “were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims,” police said on their blog.
Two males with gunshot wounds arrived in a private vehicle at Harborview Medical Center at about 3 a.m., said hospital spokesperson Susan Gregg. The 19-year-old man died and the other person was in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
The suspect or suspects fled and investigators had no description of the shooter or shooters as of Saturday morning, police said.
“Homicide detectives responded and are conducting a thorough investigation, despite the challenges presented by the circumstances,” police said.
Investigators were reviewing public-source video and body-camera video for clues, Seattle Police Sgt. Lauren Truscott told The Seattle Times.
The CHOP zone is an area where protesters cordoned off several blocks near a police station in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood following demonstrations against police violence since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis several weeks ago.
Seattle police largely retreated from the zone after clashes with protesters ended with people throwing things at police and police tear gassing people and using other crowd control munitions. Protesters and others have said the police overreacted. City officials have said they are still communicating with protest leaders, who had pledged to keep the peace in the zone.
The president of the union representing more than 1,000 of Seattle’s police officers, Mike Solan, told Fox News that “violence has now besieged the area known as CHOP and it is no longer the summer of love, it’s the summer of chaos.”
Hours after the shooting, the scene in the protest zone was quiet. People pushed baby strollers and other visitors milled about in the cool, cloudy weather, taking photos of themselves with CHOP signs.
Protest organizers held a meeting to discuss the early morning shootings and some protest volunteers patrolled the area carrying guns. They did not interfere with anyone entering or leaving the zone.
The zone has drawn the continued ire of President Donald Trump. His tweets about possibly sending in the military have been met with condemnation from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats.
Asked about the shooting Saturday, Inslee said “we need to have a way for the community to have a way to speak and for police and fire services to be provided.”
Inslee added: “One way or another we obviously need to provide a way to offer protection for people, and that’s a necessity.”
Three people killed in stabbing attack in English town of Reading
A person speaks to a police officer at a cordon after reported multiple stabbings in Reading, Britain, June 20, 2020. (REUTERS)
Sky News said the stabbings took place at the site of Black Lives Matter protest in the town earlier in the day
Updated 21 June 2020
June 20, 2020 20:11
READING, England: Three people were killed and another three seriously injured when a man went on a stabbing spree in a park in the southern English town of Reading on Saturday, though police said they were not currently treating the incident as terrorism.
Witnesses said a man went on the rampage at around 1800 GMT in Forbury Gardens, stabbing people at random who had gathered in the park on a sunny summer evening in Reading, which is about 40 miles (65 km) west of London.
A 25-year-old man from Reading was arrested on suspicion of murder, police said, adding that they were not searching for any more suspects.
“There is no intelligence to suggest that there is any further danger to the public, however we urge people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious by calling police,” Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said.
“This is not currently being treated as a terrorism incident, however officers are keeping an open mind as to the motivation for the incident and are being supported by colleagues from Counter Terrorism Policing South East.”
A witness who spoke to the BBC, Lawrence Wort, said the attack began when a man suddenly veered toward a group of about eight to 10 friends and began stabbing them, “so the first three he got so completely out of the blue, he got very badly.”
Wort said the assailant locked eyes with him and the person he was with and started coming toward them, but they ran to safety, at which point the man turned back to attack another group. When everyone started running from the scene, the attacker ran from the park, Wort said.
“My thoughts are with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading and my thanks to the emergency services on the scene,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
Video footage posted on Twitter showed paramedics rushing to help at least three people who were bleeding on the ground. Reuters was unable to verify the footage independently.
Matt Rodda, a lawmaker who represents Reading in Britain’s parliament, said the park, located in a historic area of the town, was typically busy on a Saturday evening.
“It’s used by people to sit and meet with friends and obviously at the moment people have been meeting there, observing social distancing, and just chatting to friends peacefully in a park,” Rodda told Sky News.
“This incident happened in that kind of environment so it’s really quite deeply shocking for local people.”
Current coronavirus restrictions mean venues like pubs are closed, so many people in Britain gather in parks in the evenings to meet friends.
The head of the local council authority in Reading, Jason Brock, said his thoughts were “with the families of all those who have died or have been injured.”
The attack in Reading took place at the site of a Black Lives Matter anti-racism protest in the town earlier on Saturday but police said it was not connected.
“There have been some reports that this incident was linked to the Black Lives Matter protest which took place in Reading earlier this afternoon,” Hunter said. “I can confirm that this incident is not connected. It occurred around three hours after the protest had concluded.”
Some 36 people were killed in four attacks in Britain blamed by authorities on terrorism in 2017, the most deadly of which occurred at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, northern England, with other attacks at London Bridge and near parliament.
Last year the government downgraded the national terrorism threat level to “substantial,” meaning an attack is likely, from “severe.”