The Seattle Police Department responded to multiple reports of shots fired around 3am on Monday morning inside the self-declared Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) zone.
Callers reported multiple shots were fired into a white Jeep that was parked near or at the barriers signifying the border of the autonomous zone, according to police.
“When investigators arrived, they found a white Jeep Cherokee riddled with bullet holes on 12th Avenue,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said during a morning press briefing. ”We were told that there were two men inside the vehicle, and both had been shot.”
A black male victim was brought to Harborview Medical Centre in Seattle Monday morning where he later died, police said. A 14-year-old-boy was hospitalised with gunshot injuries at the same hospital.
People who identified themselves as “CHOP medics” reportedly brought the two victims to the hospital after the shooting.
No suspects have been identified in the shooting, which the police are still investigating. Police did say that they thought the crime scene was disrupted by other individuals before they got there.
“The typical things we search for in a case like this, or in a shooting like this, weren’t there, and it was abundantly clear to our detectives – people had been in and out of the car after the shooting,” Ms Best said. “Detectives are trying to get information from other witnesses, but as has been the case in other crime scenes up in this area, people are not being cooperative with our requests for help.”
“We’re not sure who shot at the car or why they shot at the car,” she added.
The Monday shooting was the fifth to occur inside the CHOP and the second to result in fatalities.
Thousands of protesters occupied the section of Seattle Capitol Hill neighbourhood in the wake of George Floyd‘s death. Occupancy has since decreased in the area, but there still remains a gathering of people with little effort from the city to break up the protest.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and her administration have avoided breaking up the protest, but the increase in violence could force her hand in getting the city to take back the area.
The police chief advocated for the autonomous zone, which aims to be a police-free area for protesters, to be broken up amid the shootings.
“There are multiple people who are being injured and hurt, and we need to do something about it,” Ms Best said.
“We’re asking the people to remove themselves from this area for the safety of the people,” she added. “It is absolutely irresponsible for this trend to continue.”