At least one person was killed and seven others, including a child, were wounded on Wednesday after a dispute among a group of people escalated into a shootout near a tourist area in downtown Seattle, authorities said.
Carmen Best, chief of police in the northwestern US city, told reporters that multiple suspects were being sought in connection with the mass shooting that took place near a McDonald’s fast food restaurant, just blocks away from the popular Pike Place Market.
It was the third shooting in the area in less than two days, and the latest incident of gun violence that has become all too common in the United States.
Best said witnesses and video footage indicated that the incident unfolded after several people standing in front of the McDonald’s got into a dispute and began shooting at each other, hitting bystanders.
‘This is not a random incident, there were multiple people involved,’ Best said. ‘People pulled out guns, shots rang out, people ran in various directions.’
Authorities said a woman in her 40s was killed and several others were wounded in the shooting that occurred shortly after 5:00 pm (01:00 GMT) when the area was crowded with people heading home from work or shopping.
Officials at Harborview Medical Center, where all the wounded were transported, said seven people were being treated at the hospital, including a nine-year-old boy.
Police ordered people to stay out of the area and shut down a metro station as they searched for the suspects.
Tyler Parsons, an employee at Victrola Coffee Roasters, told The Seattle Times that he was working when he suddenly saw victims falling to the ground as shots rang out.
He said several people ran into the shop to seek cover.
‘The shooting was just kind of terrifying. Terrifying it’s so close,’ he told the paper.
One body covered with a white tarp could be seen in TV images lying on the sidewalk in front of the McDonald’s following the shooting.
It was unclear if any of the victims were tourists.
Susan Gregg, a spokesperson for Harborview Medical Center, said a 55-year-old woman shot in the abdomen was rushed into surgery and the boy, who was shot in the leg, was in serious condition.
The other victims - five males - were in satisfactory condition, she said.
‘I am horrified and dismayed to hear about the shooting in Seattle tonight,’ Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.
The shooting was the latest in a string of violent incidents in the city over the last 48 hours. A 55-year-old man was killed in a shooting on Tuesday. A day later, an officer-involved shooting injured a suspect.
The Downtown Seattle Association released a statement urging officials to devote more resources to the area that has seen an uptick in crime in recent years.
‘We call on public officials to devote the resources necessary to improve safety in downtown and take back Third Avenue from the criminals who have laid claim to it,’ the statement said. ‘On behalf of residents, small business owners, employers and visitors, we say enough is enough.’.
Around 40,000 people died from various firearms-related incidents, including suicides and homicides, in 2017 in the US, according to government figures.
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