SEATTLE - Seattle Police are investigating a deadly shooting inside Emerald City Bible Fellowship in Seattle's Rainier Valley neighborhood.
Police responded to the church around 4 p.m. Wednesday and said a victim was inside the Emerald City Bible Fellowship for a meeting when the suspect, who was not part of the meeting, entered the church and confronted the victim. The suspect then pulled out a gun and shot the victim, police say.
A neighbor spoke with Q13 News shortly after the incident happened, expressing his concern for gun violence in the neighborhood.
"We need more police presence in this neighborhood right here because you know it’s getting really bad. In the almost eight years I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed, this is my third fourth shooting," Leslie Milton, a neighbor, told Q13 News.
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Wednesday during a media briefing said there were dozens of witnesses that they can talk to in order to piece together what happened. Diaz said it is unknown what happened between the two and said during a media briefing it's a goal for the department to reduce shootings in Seattle.
"After coming off a year with 50 homicide, 25 of those or 50 percent of those being Black, it is one of my big things to try and reduce those amount of shootings. Trying to be able to calm those levels of fear," said Diaz.
On Thursday, Harvey Drake the pastor at Emerald City Bible Fellowship spoke with Q13 News about the moments that lead up to the deadly shooting. Drake said Community Passageways was at the church holding an orientation meeting on Wednesday when the shooting suspect came looking for the victim. He said he believes the two, both presumed in their 20s, knew each other and that this was not a random act.
"We as a church have literally been praying on the corner of Rainier Ave. S. and Henderson every Sunday since last June 7th. And we're praying over the neighborhood, asking for hope, asking for people to be at peace with each other. Especially with a lot of all the racial tension and then to see this happen here, that's just really kind of mind-boggling," said Drake.
Church staff said they are reviewing safety protocols and say the doors to the church are always locked. Seattle Police do not have a suspect in custody or details on the suspect's identity.
Community Passageways said in a statement to Q13 News that they are actively working with the church and families impacted by Wednesday's shooting.
"All of us at Community Passageways are deeply saddened by the horrific incident that took place yesterday during our program which has been hosted at Emerald City Bible Fellowship since 2016," the organization said. "Our team, participants, and community are actively working together to begin a journey of collective healing as we mourn for the family and loved ones that were impacted by this tragic event."
The organization said they will not release further comments at this time out of respect for those impacted by the act of violence at the church.
"As an organization we are constantly reviewing our procedures and evaluating our protocols while engaging national experts to assure best practices continue to be in place. At this time we will not be responding to requests for interview or additional comments out of respect for those who have been impacted by this act of violence."