SEATTLE – Three Seattle police officers were shot and wounded while trying to arrest robbery suspects in downtown Seattle on Thursday afternoon. One of the suspects barricaded himself in a nearby building. He was later found dead.
According to Seattle Times, a male officer, who was shot in the face, was initially listed in critical condition but was upgraded to serious condition. A female officer, whose body armor saved her from a life-threatening gunshot wound to the chest, was treated at a hospital and released. A third officer suffered a hand wound and was treated and released from Harborview Medical Center, police said.
Beyond the gunshot wounds, a fourth officer was struck by a bottle during the struggle with the robbers and was treated at the scene, police said.
A 17-year-old girl was identified as a suspect. She was arrested near the shooting scene around 2:10 p.m. This was about 45 minutes after the officers were shot near Madison Street and Western Avenue.
Two additional suspects are 19-year-old men, according to police. One of whom was found dead.
The shooting wreaked havoc downtown as police flooded the area and ordered people to remain inside businesses. Police had to close off streets, which caused gridlock until the evening commute.
— seattledot (@seattledot) April 20, 2017
Further complicating matters, police were unsure how many suspects had been involved in the 7-11 robbery and shooting.
“Case is rapidly developing and detectives are reviewing new evidence as it’s coming in,” Seattle Police Department tweeted.
Yet around 6 p.m., police seemed confident that three people were involved in the crime, and all were in custody. But they did not release details regarding the arrests or the death of one suspect.
At an afternoon news briefing near the shooting scene, Deputy Police Chief Carmen Best said that aside from the wounded officers, no one else had been injured. A short time later, a police spokesman said the male suspect suffered “significant injuries.”
It was about 4 p.m. that police announced the suspect was dead and his body remained inside the Federal Office Building, 909 First Ave.
While officers searched for that suspect, federal employees inside the redbrick and terra-cotta art deco building sheltered in place and could be seen peering out the windows, reported Seattle Times. The were led out by police a short time later.
The wounded officers were taken to Harborview. The female officer who was shot in the chest is 42 years old; the male officer, 30, suffered gunshot wounds to his chin and rib cage, Best said. Each one has been on the job about three years.
“They’re obviously in pain and discomfort, but their attitude is great. One of them was smiling,” Mayor Ed Murray said during an afternoon news conference outside the hospital.
Police said a second male officer, a 27-year veteran, suffered a hand wound and was treated and released from the hospital.
Police released no information on the fourth injured officer. Furthermore, their names were not disclosed.
“We are obviously grateful this did not turn out worse,” Best said during an evening news conference at police headquarters.
The suspects robbed a 7-Eleven at First Avenue and Cherry Street about 1 p.m., according to police.
It was two nearby bicycle officers that confronted the suspects about two blocks away and a fight ensued, Best said. While one officer fought with a male suspect on the ground, the 17-year-old girl struck the officer over the head with a bottle, she said. The suspects then fled, and one fired at police, who returned fire, she said.
The suspect who opened fire then barricaded himself in the building, Best said. That man was later found dead, she said.
“In an abundance of caution, when we entered the building, we decided to clear it and render it safe,” Best said, explaining why it took so long for police to declare the man dead.
She said she didn’t know how the man died or whether he had been shot by responding officers or was mortally wounded during the exchange of gunfire with the injured officers. Police said the circumstances of his death will be determined by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many officers fired at the suspect.
While at the hospital, Mayor Murray expressed relief that the officers’ wounds were not more serious.
“When we think about our police, this is who we should think about: people who put their lives on the line every day; people who leave their homes in the morning, and their families don’t know if they’re going to come back. … These two wonderful officers are going to be able to go home, and that’s the good news of this story.”