Teen killed in Garfield High School shooting in Seattle; classes canceled

Jun 6, 2024, 1:43 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2024, 4:03 am

Image: A Seattle Police Department vehicle and yellow police tape can be seen outside Garfield High...

A Seattle Police Department vehicle and yellow police tape can be seen outside Garfield High School in Seattle after a nearby shooting on Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Police Department's SPD Blotter)

(Photo courtesy of the Seattle Police Department's SPD Blotter)

A teenager struck by gunfire in a shooting near Garfield High School Thursday afternoon has died, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) reported.

According to an updated post on the SPD’s SPD Blotter, Harborview Medical Center confirmed that despite lifesaving efforts, the student, “succumbed to his injuries” and died. The department also added the news to its X account.

According to the SPD Blotter post, at 12:30 p.m., officers responded to reports of the shooting in the 400 block of 23rd Avenue and, subsequently, located a 17-year old boy suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

The SPD officers then provided medical aid until the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) arrived and continued treatment. The teenager was transported to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition. Earlier Thursday, Harborview spokesperson Susan Gregg confirmed to KIRO Newsradio it was treating one male teenager in connection with the shooting.

Response to the Seattle shooting

Officers determined that an altercation took place on school grounds prior to the shooting, the SPD Blotter post states. The male suspect, considered “high school aged,” ran from the scene and has not yet been located. Police cordoned off the area until Seattle Police Homicide Detectives arrived.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, SPD Assistant Chief Eric Barden says it started with a student breaking up a fight.

“One of the original combatants approached the victim, apparently angry that they had intervened,” Barden said. “Some words were exchanged, there was some altercation and then the suspect pulled out a weapon and fired a number of rounds at our victim, striking our victim.”

The SPD has not released a specific description of the suspect, but KIRO 7’s Bridget Chavez reported the SPD is looking for a person “described as wearing red jeans, red shirt, black belt and has dreads.”

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, an alum of Garfield High, spoke out at the news conference. He appeared visibly upset by Thursday’s incident.

“I can’t the word ‘trauma’ enough to describe what our children are going through, Harrell said. “This is not the first shooting at Garfield and these kids deserve better.”

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Harrell added he is directing SPD to look at the area for increased attention and patrols after the shooting. However, it is not to over police.

“It is to protect. It is to develop a bond with the community so the community feels we have an investment strategy to protect them,” Harrell said.

Interim Seattle Police Chief Sue Rahr addressed the press at the news conference as well. She reiterated Harrell’s points about increasing patrols to help the community.

“Obviously, I’m the police chief. But I’m feeling the heart of a mother. I can’t imagine what this young man’s family is going through and his friends … I want to acknowledge how incredibly tragic this whole thing,” Rahr said. “I also want to reassure people in this community that the Seattle Police Department is going to redouble our efforts in this community to try and help the students and people who live up here to feel a sense of safety … We’re not coming in here (for) hardcore policing. We’re coming into the neighborhood to gather with the community, work with the community.

Image: Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell speaks at a news conference in response to the shooting around Garfield High School that left a 17-year-old student dead on Thursday, June 6, 2024. Immediately to Harrell's right is Seattle's Interim Police Chief Sue Rahr.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell speaks at a news conference in response to the shooting around Garfield High School that left a 17-year-old student dead on Thursday, June 6, 2024. Immediately to Harrell’s right is Seattle’s Interim Police Chief Sue Rahr. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7)

Garfield High School tries to move on

Noting that “we experienced a heartbreaking incident of gun violence in front of the auditorium on our campus,” Garfield High School Principal Tarance Hart, Ph.D., announced on the school’s website that the school would be closed on Friday, June 7 and Monday, June 10. Hart expects the school to reopen Tuesday, June 11.

There also will be no after-school activities or any district transportation those days.

Various support services will be prepared to students and staff who need them.

As the SPD noted on X Thursday, Garfield High School was on lockdown after the shooting. The lockdown was lifted at 3:15 p.m. From there, SPD said a staggered release unification process for parents and students was to be held on the Southeast corner of Garfield High School near the fields.

Parent Alicia Spanswick told KIRO 7 she is tired of the violence at her kids’ school and rallied with other parents for more officers on campus Thursday evening.

“School resource officers or at least the same kind of presence that we had after the incident in March because it was pretty clear that the violence cooled when there was a consistent police presence,” Spanswick said, KIRO 7 reported.

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Christle Young, who was on the scene shortly after the shooting, called 911 and attempted to help the victim, agreed with Spanswick’s safety measure point.

“I feel like with all the shootings that have happened already this year, the school board should have a couple of SPD officers at least here on a detail or something to help deter crime,” said Young said, according to KIRO 7.

Spanswick, who is also part of Garfield High’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), is calling on the school board to make the change so students can feel safe at school.

“There is a kid who can’t fight anymore and if I’m not here fighting for my kids and for my neighbors’ kids who is?” Spanswick asked, KIRO 7 reported.

Contributing: Charlie Harger, KIRO Newsradio

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

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