South King County mayors demand action from state to end rash of violence
Taken from Tuesday’s edition of Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio, and edited for clarity.
Multiple mayors in South King County are banding together to combat a violent trend after seven people were shot in four days.
“They need to speak up. They need to come out and speak up and say what happened. Why did y’all do this to my son?” asks one local mother.
In Kent, just last week, a 39-year-old man was shot and killed. As KIRO 7 TV’s Lauren Donovan reports, a couple days before that, the man’s two sons were shot in the same place he was shot.
Also last week, shootings at two different malls sent shoppers running for their lives. A man and a woman shot in the parking lot of Southcenter Mall are still in the hospital as of Monday night. At Tacoma Mall on Friday, gunfire rang out in the food court after an argument.
KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson invited Kent Mayor Dana Ralph on his show, who told him that it’s been hard on everyone. She is pinning the recent string of violence on drugs and gangs.
“I think it’s fair to say that the groups are known to each other, and that this is more than likely a turf war over that area, that bus stop, that corner — drugs and gangs,” she said.
The mayor has some programs in place to help integrate Kent police into the community. Ralph says officers play basketball with elementary school kids, and do “Shop with a Cop” every Christmas. The goal of programs like these is for people to develop relationships with their law enforcement officers.
But Ralph is just one of many mayors joining together to demand help from the state to quash the violent crime in South King County.
Federal Way Mayor Jim Farrell wrote a letter to the community Monday night. He’s actually leading the pack of mayors demanding action from the state, and says he feels like he’s living in the Wild West.
“When they show up at the legislative session next year, they need to fix these drug laws, they need to fix these pursuit laws,” Farrell said.
He wants to go to the source — the King County prosecutor’s office — to make sure those committing crimes are brought to justice. Farrell says the community will not sit by while criminals take advantage of weakened drug laws and a lack of prosecution.
Other mayors joining this fight include the leaders of Auburn, SeaTac, and Des Moines.
As of early Monday, there has been no word yet from the King County prosecutor, King County executive, state lawmakers, or the governor following Mayor Farrell’s letter laying out exactly what he wants to see to put this violence to an end.
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