Earlier this month a 15-year-old was shot and killed at 3rd and Pike in downtown Seattle. A few days earlier a 45-year-old man was shot to death in the same area. And prior to that police responded to calls about a stabbing and discovered a carjacking in which the driver eventually drove the stolen vehicle into the entrance of a Starbucks. This all happened in one small area in the span of a week. The shooters haven’t been caught yet but it’s likely the violence is connected to a surge of drug dealing in the area:
[Leslie] Buker and others who live or work near the 1500 block of Third Avenue said Monday that the area has seen an influx of drug users since Seattle police cleared out an open-air drug market in Seattle’s Little Saigon neighborhood a little over a week ago. People openly hawk stolen goods on sidewalks crowded with drug users and dealers…
On Monday, private security officers who patrol Third Avenue described an uptick in visible crime on the sidewalk since the police operation in Little Saigon. Daily, they say there are more illegal resales of liquor and merchandise, more fights and more people who are “loyal to the foil,” those who heat fentanyl pills on bits of tin foil and suck in the smoke through straws.
“It’s not our job to protect them or to protect anyone but the buildings we work for,” said Sam King, a security guard for the Market at Century Square, moments after a nonbloody knife fight broke out between two men just feet from the building .
“It needs to be safer,” King added. “We just can’t do anything about it and keep having to watch it get worse.”
After a shooting the streets are filled with police and members of the crime lab but once the police go home things quickly return to normal. Here’s what normal looks like.
HAPPENING NOW: Just hours after a shooting on 3rd Ave in Downtown Seattle, the insanity has returned. This is the stretch between Pike/Pine St. Open air drug use, sales of all kinds of merch, trash everywhere. How is this allowed?@TeamSweeter @downtownseattle @SeattlePD pic.twitter.com/UQPmg9krhU
— Jonathan Choe Journalist KOMO News (@choeshow) February 28, 2022
The safety concerns are a major problem for businesses in the area. A popular bakery announced it would close its store in the area for the safety of employees. Imagine having this take place outside your front door.
Due to another shooting, countless safety concerns for our employees we have no choice but to close 3rd location until further notice . https://t.co/R7gKmfP9l6 pic.twitter.com/VeXeWtxxdc
— Piroshky Piroshky (@PiroshkyBakery) February 27, 2022
KOMO News spoke to the bakery’s owner:
“It’s normal to see that almost every single day,” said Piroshky Piroshky owner Olga Sagan…
Sagan feels helpless in finding a solution and recalled a time when she called police for assistance at the bakery and waited for 30 minutes before leaving.
“I left very, very disappointed that, you know, we are to the point where criminals now don’t even care,” Sagan said…
A total of 3,290 aggravated assaults were reported in Seattle in 2021, well above the 2,656 reported in 2020. There have been 284 reported so far this year.
Today, Amazon announced it would be relocating hundreds of employees away from the area, at least temporarily.
In downtown Seattle’s commercial core, retail workers have doubled as first responders, doormen have been to keep unwelcome visitors out and some buildings are still sitting empty as employers worry about the safety of workers and customers.
Amazon is the latest company to react.
It is temporarily moving workers from its space in the building at Third Avenue and Pine Street that until 2019 held the downtown Macy’s store, a spokesperson for the company said Friday. The office’s 1,800 employees have been working remotely during the pandemic; Rather than returning to the desks they left over two years ago, workers will move to other locations in South Lake Union. Remote work is still an option for Amazon employees.
“Given recent incidents near 3rd and Pine, we’re providing employees currently at that location with alternative office space elsewhere,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We are hopeful that conditions will improve and that we will be able to bring employees back to this location when it is safe to do so.”
Mario Bisio, the owner a nearby clothing store said Amazon’s decision was demoralizing. “It sends a very negative message to our clients and to the community on the state of affairs of downtown Seattle,” he said. He added, “We pray that there will be a time in the future that people can bring their family downtown in the evening, feel safe to shop, walk the streets and go to restaurants. That is not the case today.”
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has vowed to bring crime in the city under control but it’s obviously still a work in progress.