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Federal Way mayor doesn’t believe string of shootings are gang-related

Police investigate a shooting outside of Wild Waves in Federal Way Friday night. (KIRO 7 image)

Federal Way is dealing with an alarming string of crimes. A fatal shooting Sunday morning marked the third incident in just four days.

Four separate shootings strike over the weekend in King County

Previously, a 14 year-old girl and a 17 year-old boy were injured in a shooting. Both thankfully survived.

So what exactly is the plan to tackle the issue? Federal Way Mayor Jim Farrell joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss the nature of the crimes and what the city plans to do.

“I could tell you this: that we’re going to track these people down. We’re going to identify and track them down, arrest them and hold him accountable in a court of law,” he said.

The mayor doesn’t believe that the three recent shootings in less than a week are indication of gang violence despite the appearance, and despite the fact that one of the victims was apparently shot for flashing a gang sign.

“But this is not formalized gang structure,” he said. “This is really just young people, exchanging some sort of back and forth, and somebody gets disrespected and they want to open fire. I do want to tell you that the murder that occurred at the gas station is the first murder in Federal Way this year.”

A look at the raw numbers doesn’t suggest the narrative that Federal Way is inherently a dangerous place, but with this many shootings in a matter of days, a narrative does develop. Since one of the murders was an offshoot of a prearranged fight with a crowd watching, the mayor hopes to reach young people who may show up to such an event.

“I would send word out to every young person who’s in school. Don’t leave school to go to a prearranged fight and don’t stand there and be a bystander,” he said. “Nobody deserves to be shot, nobody deserves to be a victim of a crime … I think we need to make sure that when young people are supposed to be at school they’re at school, period.”

“The second thing is that with regard to Wild Waves (shooting), we had five officers that were literally standing there — I’m not sure what could be done to prevent somebody from driving by five officers and opening fire.”

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For Mayor Farrell, the key is to make sure there are programs in place that help young people avoid going off the track.

“We need to make sure that when a young person is starting to show signs of going off track, there’s got to be an intervention. And that’s why we got money from the Legislature for community outreach programs … to make sure that we’ve got youth engagement programs to where if people are starting to go off track, there are people around them — family members, community members, friends — that can say, ‘Whoa, hold on. You don’t get in that car. Don’t associate with those people.'”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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