Family pleads for tips in Pioneer Square random shooting

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 25 at 6:07 AM

SEATTLE -- Seattle official are asking for the public's help in finding the gunman who shot a woman in Seattle's Pioneer Square early Sunday morning, leaving her with life-threatening injuries.

During a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Mike McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz identified the victim as Nicole Westbrook, 21. Westbrook recently moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to study culinary art in Seattle.

"She is in the hospital fighting for her life," said McGinn.

Police said around 2 a.m. Sunday, Westbrook and her boyfriend were walking home from a club near Second Avenue and Yesler Way when a car with several people inside drove by and several shots were fired. Several pedestrians were walking in the area at the time; Westbrook was hit.

Two police officers heard the shots and arrived at the scene within seconds. They found Westbrook lying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to the neck. They conducted CPR until medics arrived and transported her to Harborview Medical Center, where she's on life-support. She was listed in critical condition Tuesday night.

"The shooting, so far as we know, was random," said McGinn.

Police questioned several witnesses in the area and officers canvassed the area for suspects, but their search turned up empty.

McGinn and Diaz, joined by Westbrook's sister and aunt, urged the public to help find the shooter.

"There's no honor in what this individual, or individuals, has done," said Joyce Esquer, Westbrook's aunt. "And there's no honor in silence. We believe that there are [family members] who know this person or have information about who shot Nicole. We ask you to come forward to share this information with the police."

Westbrook is of Navajo descent. Her aunt said the family already knows the price of service.

"In 2005, Nicole's father was killed in action in Iraq.  In 2009, her uncle (Kenneth Westbrook) was killed in action in Afghanistan," said Esquer. "Her brother just completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan and is in Seattle with the family."

Surveillance video from a nearby building when the incident occured showed a vehicle speeding from the scene. Diaz described the car as a white vehicle, but no other details were given. Police distributed the video in hopes it would generate more tips in the case.

"Somebody knows something about what happened that night. There are a number of pedestrians who were in the area who, for obvious reaons once they heard the gunshots, dove for cover. But they may know something, and likely may not have known ... the results of what happened that morning," said Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz. "And so, we are asking for folks who were in that area, particularly at 2 a.m. around 2nd and Yesler when those shots rang out, that you please let us know, please give us a call and let us know what you may have seen."

Metz also delivered a message to the people in the car where the gunshot originated:

"Whether you fired the weapon or not, you are a potential accessory. And if you want to protect yourself, the best thing you can do is turn yourself in and talk to the detectives."

If you have information related to this case, you're urged to call the Seattle Police Department tipline at 206-233-5000.

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