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Shooting At Seattle Homeless Encampment Leaves 2 Dead, 3 Injured

Dean Rutz
AP Photo
Law enforcement and medics respond to a shooting near Airport Way South and Atlantic Street on Jan. 26, 2015 in Seattle. Police say two people have been fatally shot and three others wounded by gunfire at a homeless encampment.

Seattle Police are searching for at least two people in connection with the shooting at a homeless camp south of downtown. Five people were shot Tuesday night in the unauthorized encampment known as “The Jungle.”

Seattle Police say they have leads and are interviewing witnesses in the shooting that left two people dead and three others wounded. But the perpetrators are still at large.

At a news conference, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said authorities believe the shooting was related to low-level drug dealing.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the two people killed as 45-year-old Jeannine Zapata and 33-year-old James Q. Tran.  Both died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Three victims remain hospitalized at Harborview. 

Credit Monica Spain / KPLU
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole addresses reporters at City Hall Wednesday.

O’Toole says the officers and social service agencies are visiting other area encampments to offer support and short-term shelter.

The shooting occurred just as Mayor Ed Murray took the stage in a televised public address about how the city is addressing homelessness.

In November, he signed a declaration of emergency to tackle the problem.

Since then, the city has allocated an extra $7 million to open additional shelter beds and set up encampments on city property. But some people have spoken out against the encampments, and in his speech, Murray said it’s been painful to hear Seattle residents vilify homeless people.

“Part of what I’m asking today is that we challenge each other to do better without denigrating each other," he said. "Instead of cooperation in a shared voice, we’ve seen too much division and extreme rhetoric about who homeless people are and how to solve this crisis.”

Murray said Seattle’s struggles with homelessness is part of a national crisis brought on in part by shrinking federal funding for affordable housing. He says he plans to propose a new Seattle housing levy that will be twice as large as the $145 million housing levy passed by voters in 2009.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.