SEATTLE - Washington's most populous county continues to see a sharp spike in gun violence, with fatal shootings in the first nine months of the year already exceeding 2020’s year-end totals.
As of the end of September, 73 people had been killed and another 283 injured in shootings in King County this year, according to data from the King County Prosecutor’s Shots Fired Project.
The Seattle Times reports that in all of 2020, there were 69 firearm-related homicides and 268 nonfatal shootings, numbers that represented a 36% increase in total gunshot victims above the three-year average between 2017 and 2020.
"While 2020 set all sorts of records, 2021 is blowing that out of the water," said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. "It’s disheartening to see these numbers continue to go up and I have to think the pandemic has something to do with it."
The Shots Fired Project, begun in early 2017, tracks the number of fatal and injury shootings in the county, along with shootings that result in property damage and those that don’t but are confirmed by evidence such as shell casings. The data does not include suicides carried out with firearms, self-inflicted shootings or shootings in which an officer was involved.
People of color, especially young Black men, continue to be disproportionately affected by gun violence, as has been reported in previous years.
"For me, I continue to believe we need a holistic approach to gun violence prevention which involves making sure people have their basic needs and the support required to live safe and secure lives," said Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilmember.
"The only end in sight is when we begin to focus our efforts and energy on changing the material conditions that people are living in throughout our region, so everybody can have access to the quality healthcare, quality education, stable housing and employment that’s necessary to thrive in our region," said Sean Goode, Executive Director of the nonprofit Choose 180.
According to the prosecutor’s data, of the people shot so far this year, 85% were male, 32% were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 81% were people of color. Similar to other years, 50% of the 356 fatal and nonfatal shooting victims were Black in a county where Black people make up 7% of the population.
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