2 killed, 3 wounded in shooting at homeless encampment; victims 'specifically targeted'

SEATTLE -- Two people were killed and three others were wounded Tuesday night  in a "specifically targeted" shooting in a wooded homeless encampment area east of Airport Way South and South Atlantic Street, the Seattle Police Department said.

Around 7:15 p.m., police received reports of gunfire near the 1500 block of Airport Way South, the police blotter said.

Officers began searching a greenbelt in the area – sometimes referred to as “The Jungle” – and found the five victims. One  person was declared deceased at the scene and four were sent to Harborview Medical Center, where another man died.

Police searched the woods and the area for suspects, but decided the shooters had left the area, Seattle Assistant Police Chief Robert Merner said.

Police have two "persons of interest" they will be seeking in connection with the shooting, Merner said.  He added that other homeless encampments don't have to fear a shooting from the same suspects.

"We have reason to believe it was very targeted as far as what happened there tonight," Merner said.

Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole reinforced that view. She said the victims were not targeted because they were homeless.

"They were targeted specifically for who they were," O'Toole said. "We have no reason to believe there is an ongoing danger at this point."

Harborview Medical Center said it had received four victims, one of whom, a man,  died. Three others -- two women and a man -- were undergoing surgery. Spokeswoman Susan Gregg said one is in critical condition and two were in serious condition. She said they ranged in age from 25 to 45 and that they sustained gunshot wounds to their chests, abdomens and other parts of their bodies.

The shooting occurred just before Murray delivered a major speech about helping the homeless in the city.