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Witnesses detail deadly CHOP shooting, fear for lives

SEATTLE — With gunfire echoing through Capitol Hill in the early morning hours, it was another sleepless night of fear for those around CHOP, the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.

“I thought I was gonna die, I’m not even gonna lie,” CHOP occupier Malcolm H. said.

“It got extremely, extremely violent,” said Joe Pascual, who lives next to the East Precinct, where protesters have staked claim for weeks. “You can hear people screaming outside, you can hear the active shooting happening, bang, bang, bang.”

They both said the gunfire carried from Cal Anderson Park over to near the East Precinct, where a white Jeep crashed into barricades. CHOP security opened fire on the car, hitting two teenagers inside.

“I ducked to the ground, I got low, maybe another 15 shots were shot and then it was a break, it was silent,” Malcolm said.

Authorities said a 16-year-old died and a 14-year-old is in critical condition. The violence marked the second homicide in the area, a second dead teenager, since CHOP started.

“Enough is enough,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said on scene later that morning. “There are people who live here, there are multiple people who are being injured and hurt, and we need to do something about it. It is absolutely irresponsible for this to continue.”

It’s been a week since Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said it was time to restore order in Capitol Hill. Still the occupation remains, the shootings continue, and residents say their safety is being ignored.

“Right now, all we have left is to think that nothing is being done and they’re just sitting back,” Pascual said. “I think a month is far too long. It’s gone on far too long and it just needs to end.”

“You want to fight for what’s right, you want to make sure that change comes, you want to be on the right side of history, but in the same sense, you also want to be safe,” Malcolm said.

He said he is now questioning whether the occupation is the answer. If it’s again violent Monday night, he said he plans to leave.

“But I also know that there are people that don’t want to give up that precinct so you’re going to have a fight,” he said.

It’s a fight the city’s leaders have not signaled they want to take on. On Monday afternoon, Durkan’s office released a statement, saying the area violence is undermining the message of protesters.

“The area has increasingly attracted more individuals bent on division and violence, and it is risking the lives of individuals,” a spokesperson said.

The mayor’s office said they continue to urge people to leave and are providing social services on site for people who need help relocating or getting health care.

The city has not shared specific plans on any structural changes around the occupation. A spokesperson did say there are ongoing plans to remove more barriers to allow vehicle traffic. While some around CHOP have proposed clearing the park and concentrating the occupation up by the precinct, others are worried that will create a bigger target for those around the building.

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