Shooting during protest against Breitbart editor at University of Washington | KUOW News and Information

Shooting during protest against Breitbart editor at University of Washington

Jan 20, 2017

UPDATE 1/22/17, 1:25 p.m. The victim's condition has improved to serious. He remains in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center but is breathing on his own.

UPDATE 1/21/17, 1:31 p.m. University of Washington Police said they have released the shooting suspect taken into custody Friday night and that no suspects remain outstanding. 


UPDATE 1/21, 7:30 a.m.: University of Washington officials said a shooting suspect is in UW Police custody. He turned himself in, according to Seattle Police, and was being questioned.

The 34-year-old man who was shot was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition on Saturday. He was shot Friday night during a protest at the University of Washington against a controversial editor for the ultra-right-wing website Breitbart.

The speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, was in the middle of his speech at Kane Hall when people in the crowd started saying there had been a shooting outside. He stopped for a few minutes then told the crowd that police had confirmed that to him.

The Seattle Police Department said the man was shot in the abdomen.

Alex Franke, a UW senior and an EMT, came to Red Square to protest the speech and wound up giving first aid to the shooting victim.

“Someone was yelling they need a medic over there,” Franke told KUOW. “I started walking over here, expecting someone to be like pepper sprayed or something fairly benign. Then I saw someone on the ground, and I started to run.

Alex Franke, a University of Washington senior and medic, tended to the person who was shot at Red Square on Friday night.
Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan

“They had lifted his shirt most of the way up, and he was covered in blood. The other two medics that ran over, too, started applying pressure, and I started to cut off his shirt and applied pressure, then within like 10 seconds the police were there.”

It wasn't immediately known what led to the shooting.

There had been scattered scuffles between protesters and people trying to enter Kane Hall, where Yiannopoulos was speaking. Police said protesters threw paint balls and bricks, and there were reports of punches being thrown.

After the shooting was announced, Yiannopoulos told the crowd that he would continue speaking. 

Listen: Why UW College Republicans invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak

Yiannopolous was banned from Twitter this summer after channeling racist tweets at the actress Leslie Jones. His other frequent targets include feminists, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement.

A group petitioned UW President Ana Mari Cauce to block the event. But she said student organizations have the right to invite speakers, even if they express unpopular or offensive ideas.

"I feel like living in Seattle, you only hear one side of things," said UW senior Max Kaplan while standing in a long line for Yiannopoulos' talk. "It's nice to come down here and hear the other side." 

Franke said protests against having Yiannopoulos on campus were the right thing to do.

“Not to say that we should necessarily stop him from coming," Franke said, "but we should definitely have opposing voices.”

Chevy Swanson is the event chair for the UW College Republicans.

"Although a sad way for the point to be made, it only brings light to the fact that universities and many big cities aren't capable of letting other opinions exist,” he said in a Facebook post. 

In a statement, Cauce condemned the violence, calling it "a betrayal of all those who sought to exercise their right to peaceful protest or to attend the event."

She defended the decision to allow Yiannopoulos to speak.

"Canceling the event would have sent the message that a risk of disruption or conflict can be used to overwhelm our rights," Cauce said. "That would empower those on the extremes willing to resort to such tactics."

KUOW's Isolde Raftery contributed to this report.

Correction 1/21/17 10:45 a.m.: An earlier version of this story misstated the age of the victim.

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