By Neale Frothingham/Exclusive to the Rainier Valley Post
RAINIER BEACH – Just before 5 p.m. on the last Wednesday in June, a shot rang out on S. Henderson St. across from South Shore School. Multiple callers, from near the scene, and across Rainier Beach, briefly flooded the SPD 911 Dispatch Center.
According to a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department, those initial calls indicated that a running gun fight was in progress. Within a span of four minutes multiple calls were received indicating that there were two shooters, then three shooters, that the shooters had run through a playground, and that shooters had run to the nearby schools.
Based on those multiple calls, patrol and all other available units were dispatched to the scene from all across South Seattle. Eye witnesses reported as many as seven patrol cars at a time quickly heading southbound on Rainier Ave. S.
According to the spokesman, one of those units was not able to get to the scene because it was involved in a minor traffic collision with a motorist at MLK and S. Henderson.
The response eventually included a K9 unit and additional officers from Gang, Crime Prevention, and other non-patrol units. A wide perimeter was set by police that enclosed the blocks south of Cloverdale between Rainier Ave. S. and Renton Ave. S. But because of all of the rush-hour foot traffic in the area, the K9 handler made the decision that his dog would not be able to effectively track possible suspects.
Officers then made a manpower intensive, property-by-property search for possible victims and suspects, focusing on the school facilities to make sure they were secure and no suspects were inside.
Word of the incident quickly spread across the Rainier Valley via block watch e-mails and TV news reports, which some commuters caught on mobile devices on their way home.
Carol Dean, who normally walks down Henderson from the light rail said, “I got a real time e-mail report [on the shooting and police activity] on my smart phone from my block watch, it allowed me to get off two stops early, call my husband for a ride, and avoid entering a police scene. I wish more real-time alerts were available like that to help us navigate the ongoing gun violence and police activity in the valley.”
In spite of the timely response and extensive search by Seattle Police, no suspects, victims, blood, or shell casing could be located. Although a hat, believed to be from one of the shooters was taken into evidence. Some officers were released back to normal patrol and other duties around by 5:30 p.m.; however, officers continue to provide additional patrol of the area into the evening.
South Shore School is located near Rainier Avenue South and South Henderson in the Rainier Valley – one of Seattle’s most violent corners. Photo/Will Austin Photography