One man believed he heard someone knocking on his wall. Others assumed fireworks were going off. But to Pavrin Asokan, 33, the noise was unmistakable. “I’ve seen the footage from Vegas,” he says. “Not something you’d expect to hear on a Sunday night.”
News soon spread through Eastlake that the popping sounds came from police gunfire in an alley off Lynn Street, about three blocks from Lake Union. Officers arrived on the scene Sunday evening after someone reported a “suspicious vehicle,” according to a statement posted to the Seattle Police Department’s online blotter. The officers stepped out of their cruiser. Shortly after, police say, the driver drove forward toward officers who responded by opening fire. Residents say they heard two bursts of multiple shots. Some said they heard six to eight shots. Others said 15 to 20.
The “suspicious vehicle” fled the scene and police didn't follow for long. Officers located the car, a black Subaru, yesterday in North Seattle, but have yet to identify the driver or passengers.
Kathy, who has lived in a building across from the alley since 1984, says she was sitting at her desk with her door open when the gunshots went off. She walks with me across the street to the scene of the shooting and points out a white wall marked with four letters apparently showing where gunfire caused damage.
She says after the shooting, police stuck tape around the holes. (SPD spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee could not immediately confirm if the damage pictured below was caused by the officers' gunfire.)
Kathy then points to the ground, where fragments of glass mix with loose asphalt. A “puddle” of shattered car window used to sit in the same spot. Kathy, 68, says she doesn’t want to cast judgement about the decision to use force, but “I’m really not wild about people getting shot at everywhere.”
Another resident who asked me not to publish her name says she’s a survivor of gun violence. So, when she heard the shots and her partner shouted “get down,” she was pretty terrified. She notes that the neighborhood has dealt with car prowlers for a while now. (Seattle police data shows 86 incidents of car prowls in the neighborhood known as Eastlake-West this year, down from 145 last year.) “But shooting at a car? Not okay with me,” she says.
Maura Makamichi, 29, says she was rearranging her closet when she heard the gun shots. Dog barks broke out throughout her apartment building. She assumed the sound came from fireworks because the Seahawks had beaten the Rams earlier that day. But when she looked out her window, she saw the black Subaru speeding away and two police SUVs following behind.
Across Lynn street, two families hung out in a dining room, playing games when the shots rang out. They turned off the lights, shut the drapes and crawled around in the dark. Four kids, between the ages of 4 and 13, were in the home at the time. One of the mothers in the house, who also asked that I not publish her name, says she missed the shots at first because she was in a separate room listening to her daughter sing. But when she realized what happened, she was scared. And because she looked scared, her kids got scared.
Asked about her thoughts on Seattle police’s use of force that night, she says, “It’s complicated. It’s a very complicated question. If it’s necessary, they have to. If it’s not, they don’t. But the kids were frightened. My daughter said it was the most frightening thing in her life.”