Seattle Gospel Mission: Two people remain in the ‘Jungle’
Efforts to clear out the illegal homeless encampment known as the ‘Jungle’ resumed Wednesday morning, less than a day after an officer-involved shooting left one dead, according to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
On Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he expected the work in the Jungle to resume after a full investigation into the shooting was complete.
“At the same time, today’s operation in the Greenbelt was needed, both because of the long history of public safety issues in the area and because of the long-overdue work the Washington Department of Transportation needs to do on Interstate 5,” Murray said in a statement. “We expect this work to continue at the conclusion of the investigation.”
According to the Mission, the investigation concluded and its outreach team, along with the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Police Department resumed their efforts to clear out the Jungle Wednesday morning.
The Seattle Police Department’s Force Investigation Team will conducted the investigation. The civilian-led Office of Professional Accountability was.
As of Wednesday morning, two people remained in the Jungle, with no plan to leave, according to the Mission.
“They grew increasingly resistant to moving over the last several days,” the Mission wrote in a statement. “A few former Jungle residents moved back in last night, but have since been moved out.”
The shooting occurred at Airport Way and South Bayview Street as workers were clearing out the East Duwamish Greenbelt — aka the Jungle — of any remaining people living there so that work could begin on I-5. Authorities say a Seattle police officer came upon two men fighting, one appeared to have a knife. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole says one officer fired a weapon. A knife was recovered at the scene.
The man the officer shot later died at Harborview Medical Center. The man was a known drug dealer, according to the Mission.
The other man suffered injuries from being stabbed.
The officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave.
The Mission says the man who was stabbed is someone it has worked with for several months. He was on his way to a recovery program during the time of the altercation. He has been released from the hospital and will go to the program, according to the Mission.
Estimates on how many people are still living in the Jungle vary. KIRO 7 reported that about 40 people remained before the sweep began. However, that estimate was much lower Tuesday afternoon. KIRO Radio’s Josh Kerns said about 15 people remained.
Officials have felt increasing pressure to deal with the area on the western slope of Beacon Hill. The area received national attention after a fatal shooting early this year.
Despite the well-documented violence that has occurred in the area as recently as this year, protesters attempted to block the cleanup on Tuesday. Four were arrested.
Once work resume in the Jungle, the Washington State Department of Transportation intends to improve an existing access road for emergency responders and state crews. The state will also inspect sections of I-5, looking for expansion joint issues and other possible repairs.