Two people were killed and three others were injured in a shooting Tuesday at a Seattle homeless encampment in a wooded area known as “The Jungle,” Seattle police said.
The shooting occurred at around 7:15 p.m. local time (10:15 p.m. ET) and police were still searching the wooded area for suspects and determining what happened, police said.
A man and a women were killed, and three women were wounded, Merner said. The names of those killed and wounded were not released.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said there is no threat to the larger homeless population, and the victims “were targeted specifically because of who they were.” Police were looking for at least two persons of interest in the shooting, police said.
One person was dead when police arrived and another was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Center, Assistant Chief Robert Merner said.
Two of the injured were in critical condition and were in surgery Tuesday, and a third was in critical condition but in a more stable condition than the other two who were wounded, he said.
The shooting happened at around the same time Seattle Mayor Ed Murray finished delivering a special address on homelessness at Mary’s Place Family Center, about two miles north of the encampment.
Murray recently in November declared a state of emergency over the city’s growing homeless population. The city recently announced lots would be opened for those living in their vehicles.
Murray said the city houses around 2,000 people a night in shelters, a number that increased by 20 percent from last year. Murray said the number of homeless school age children has grown in the city to 3,000.
“The Jungle” is not organized or sanctioned by the city, unlike some other areas that are set aside for the homeless. City workers were scheduled to enter area Wednesday to try and help those living there, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told reporters Tuesday night.
Murray said the area has been “unmanageable and out of control for almost two decades.”
“I can’t help but wonder, did I act too late? … Maybe I should have issued the state of emergency months earlier,” Murray said. “We have tried to do the best that we can given the circumstances we have but obviously I’m going to question was I good enough at my own job. It’s on me in the end.”