Tuesday’s shootings in a homeless camp in Seattle added to the sense of crisis on the issue of homelessness. They took place just as Mayor Murray prepared to deliver a speech on the problem.
Nearby, state and city officials continued to clear homeless encampments.
The shootings left two people dead and three more injured. The violence brought new scrutiny to a encampment known as the Jungle. But by Wednesday morning, it was quiet, without a city worker or police officer in sight.
A lot of the tent sites are incredibly tidy, they’re very picked up, they’re on bare dirt under the interstate.
Slyter: “They were stealing my stuff on Aurora so I moved over here, cause I ain’t never had nothing stolen here.”
Donald Slyter’s tent is a short distance from where the shootings occurred.
Slyter suspects he knows the people hurt and killed in the shootings, he often sat around their fire pit. But he spent last night in jail and just heard the rumors once he was released.
Slyter: “Thank God I was in jail when this happened. Cause I usually hang out there, I’d be hanging out talking to them all the time ... I don’t know if it got robbed or not.”
A man who gave his name as George called the shooting “a personal dispute,” not random violence, and said it hasn’t made him more afraid to live there.
He said he moved to the Jungle to escape the sweeps of homeless encampments taking place down below.
Those cleanup efforts were in full swing on Wednesday down at the street level on Airport Way. A front-end loader scooped up trash and belongings while residents scrambled to pack. Seattle Department of Human Services spokeswoman Katherine Jolly said the city’s outreach workers had already been by.
Jolly: “Once a site is posted they come out and work with all the residents of the encampments, mainly to get them into stable housing.”
She said there is shelter space available for the people being moved out. Some people have complained that outreach workers have sent them to shelters without any space. George said he had been visited by city outreach workers but had no plans to leave.