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2 dead, 2 injured in Lake City shooting; bus driver hailed as hero

Two people were killed in a shooting, and two others were wounded, including a King County Metro bus driver, in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

“This is a random, senseless act perpetuated in our community,” Seattle Police Deputy Chief Marc Garth Green said Wednesday night.

“It appears that this was just a random act that some type of issue surrounding him, maybe mental health, or substance abuse, or something along those lines may have triggered this,” he said.

The shooting happened near 120th and Sand Point Way Northeast. SPD confirmed that a 53-year-old man died after being shot. Another victim, a 70-year-old man, died in a car crash that was caused by the suspect as he attempted escape in a stolen vehicle.

RELATED: Metro bus driver called a hero after Lake City shooting

Two others, including a bus driver, were also shot but were in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center Thursday morning.

Lake City Shooting

Witnesses say the shootings began shortly after 4 p.m. when the suspect, a 33-year-old Sand Point resident, fired seemingly at random at drivers on the roadway.

The suspect first shot a driver near Sand Point Way NE and Bartlett Avenue NE. That driver, a 57-year-old woman, was in satisfactory condition at Harborview Thursday morning.

After firing upon the woman, the suspect shot at a King County Metro bus (route 75). The bus driver, 53-year-old Eric Stark, was struck by a bullet. But he was able to quickly turn the bus around and drive it away from the gunman, taking 12 passengers to safety. He is being hailed as a hero. Stark was in satisfactory condition at Harborview Thursday morning.

“I was working in the garage, heard firecrackers. And then I opened the door, then I noticed the bus trying to back up extremely fast,” witness John Barrett told KIRO 7.

“This bus driver truly is a hero,” Deputy Chief Garth-Green said.

After firing upon the bus, the suspect stopped a red Prius on the road and shot the driver, a man in his 50s. That man was pronounced dead at the scene. Seattle police officers arrived shortly after.

“They observed the suspect at the vehicle door, tried to engage in conversation with him, give him dialogue, give him commands, he stared at the officers, turned, got into the car and drove away at a high rate of speed,” Garth-Green said.

The suspect then crashed the Prius head on into another car, killing a 70-year-old driver.

There was a standoff with police as the crash scene, but Seattle police officers were able to take the man into custody at 23rd and Sand Point Way.

“He then stayed in the vehicle, we engaged in some negotiation with him to get out,” Garth-Green said. “We were able to break the windows in the car to get a better dialogue … he eventually ended up coming out of the vehicle at which point we were able to take him into custody.”

The suspect was initially taken to Harborview for minor injuries. He is now in police custody.

Investigation

Deputy Chief Garth-Green said that Seattle police have not been called to the suspect’s home in the past and he was unknown to law enforcement.

What is known is that there was a relative with the suspect sometime prior to the shooting. Investigators have spoken with that relative and she is cooperating with police.

“We had a conversation with them,” Garth Green said. “They said they left the residence. And when they came back, as they were arriving back to the residence, that’s when they actually heard the shots and saw the incident.”

“The suspect who lives in the area, at some point decided to leave his house armed with a handgun …” he said.

“At his residence, there are some weapons, and in the vehicle he carjacked — I believe there is one at this time, there may be more,” he said. “We will obtain a search warrant for this vehicle and do further investigation.”

It is unclear how many shots were fired throughout the incident. Seattle police are using dogs to help searching the area for evidence.

Local officials respond

Seattle Councilmember Debora Juarez — whose district includes the Lake City / Sand Point Way area — issued a statement following the shooting.

“This is a tragedy for the Lake City community and all of Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a written statement. “We grieve with the loved ones of those who were taken, and we extend the good wishes and support of our city to those who were injured. I am unspeakably grateful to the King County Metro driver who acted to save lives.”

Durkan vowed to work with leaders across the region to “do everything we can to end gun violence.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine tweeted: “Just leaving Harborview where our Metro Transit operator is being treated for gunshot wounds. Spoke with Transit Union officials on site. Wounded driver acted heroically in the face of extreme adversity to protect his passengers this afternoon in Lake City.”

King County Council Chair Rod Dembowski released this statement:

“I am shocked by the shooting and tragic loss of life and injuries in my district today. I appreciate the brave actions by our Metro Transit Police in helping to apprehend the shooter. I will be working to support Metro, our driver and driver’s family, and the loved ones who have been tragically affected by this afternoon’s violence.”

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