After shooting, a Central District business looks to neighborhood’s future
On Friday, May 10, five people were shot during a single day in Seattle.
Three of those shootings happened at 21st and Union, in Seattle's Central District. The people who live and work in the neighborhood are trying to move on.
Mike Sanders has lived in the Central District for 22 years and loves it.
For years he’s had a dream to work with dogs. On Friday, he was preparing to celebrate the achievement of that dream. The next day, he was planning to throw a party to celebrate the opening of his new doggie day care service, Jake N Friends Pet Services.
Then, three people were shot just steps from his business.
“I was very upset on Friday night about it, because, somebody had passed away and I felt bad that we were going to have, you know, a party,” he said.
He cried some. His friends told him he needed to do what was right for his business. So he decided to go forward. But on the day of the party, he was nervous.
“Seeing the bloodstains on the sidewalk," he said, "what were people going to actually think when they dropped their dog off here?"
He imagined the questions they might ask: "'Is this something that’s going to happen again? Could it happen here?' Because it was so close."
Sanders said the violence seemed out of character with the neighborhood he knows. He said he's optimistic about the neighborhood and feels connected to the people he's met while walking dogs. But it would be hard to communicate that perception to potential customers if people only spoke of violence.
Down the street, Moises Santos shared a similar assessment. As owner of the food truck El Costeño, he has his eye on the street all day.
He said serious altercations are now rare here. He said Seattle police deserve credit for that.
“They’re really engaging in the neighborhood and coming by and saying 'hi' and 'what’s going on?'" he said. "They’re here, they’re present.”
The shooter has apparently not been found (Seattle Police did not respond to a request for an update on the search for a suspect). And some neighbors say the police presence doesn't feel sufficient.
"I actually feel pretty unsafe," said Katie Kelley, who lives nearby. "It’s a little unnerving. Especially going outside and running errands. My boyfriend and I don’t want to be out late at night any more."
On Saturday, the day after the shooting, Sanders crossed the street from his home, unlocked the metal security door, and opened up Jake N Friends Pet Services to the neighborhood for the first time (Jake is Mike's dog, a calm and friendly animal).
The walls were painted with brightly colored shapes. Neighbors came by, with their dogs.
At the open house party, those neighbors acknowledged the violence that had occurred. Soon, that topic passed, and conversation turned to the dogs who played and wrestled in the backyard.