SEATTLE - During 2020, an alarming spike in gun violence across King County has occurred. The latest report from the county prosecuting attorney’s office complied numbers of shootings and shots fired incidents between January to September of 2020. The report shows a 39% increase in overall shooting victims compared to a three-year average.
The report shows 59 people have died and 197 people hurt by gun violence. There are 767 total shots fired incidents so far this year, 15 percent more than a three-year average.
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said he has had conversations with district attorneys in cities across the country. He said the uptick in gun crimes is happening in communities nationwide, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a driving factor.
“Violence is an emotion. Violence is a product of despair. When somebody gets to that point where they can’t think of anything else to do to reclaim some bit of self-esteem or some insult or to retaliate for some other act of violence. Then it just has this spiraling impact,” said Sadderberg.
Satterberg said one thing that has remained consistent the last few years in his office’s research is young people are at the highest risk. Looking at 2020, 41 percent of shooting victims were under the age of 25.
It’s been more than a month since Sarahnova Mason lost her son, Cyrus Mason. The 18-year-old was shot and killed at Houghton Beach Park in Kirkland.
“The best part of us has been taken. We just feel empty,” said Mason. “We haven’t been doing very well. He was kind of like the bright shining star of all of us.”
Kirkland Police said the people responsible in Cyrus’ death are believed to be between the ages of 15 to 21. No one has been arrested yet.
“The longer they’re on the streets the more people are suffering. If you know who did this, you’re aiding and abating them to hurt other people,” said Mason.
Satterberg said new, paid community programming is coming soon to King County and possibly Seattle. The county prosecutor said the new programming could be up and running by the end of the year.
“That’s maybe the best thing that has happened this year is a willingness of the county, and I think the city of Seattle, to invest in building more community capacity to reduce violence,” said Satterberg.
He said current programs to reach young people at risk are mostly volunteer-based or minimal pay. Satterberg said the new program will offer career opportunities for those that want to be part of this vital work and reach young people before going down a dangerous path.
“We know who the people are who are at highest risk—they haven’t shot anybody yet, they haven’t been shot yet. But we still know the individuals who are always around when this is happening. So working in partnership with the community and have interventions with people that we think will really pay off and will help prevent more violence,” said Satterberg.
Less violence is one piece of justice Mason wants for her son. For right now, she said she is still in mourning.
“I’m still trying to process it and realize that he’s not here,” said Mason.