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Gun violence on the rise in King County, according to new data

The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office says community partnerships and a public health approach could be key to decreasing the violence.

SEATTLE — More people were shot in King County in the first six months of this year than in any of the previous four years over the same time period, according to new data released from the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Patrice Thomas, of West Seattle, said behind those numbers are families being torn apart. She knows from personal experience.

In 2017, Thomas received the call about her daughter, Che'Reonna, who was shot in Seattle. Che'Reonna did not survive.

"That was my only daughter," said Thomas. "She was the oldest."

Months later, there was another crime scene in Kent.

"Six months exact, got another phone call stating that my son was shot," said Thomas.

Her son, Duane Tyson Jr. was 19 when he died.

Thomas lost another loved one in May when her cousin, Steven Michael Peret, was shot and killed in Tukwila.

"This gun violence is getting out of hand. It really is," Thomas said.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg agrees. He called the data disturbing and added that it is happening at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down trials.

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"This is adding to a historic backlog of felony cases in our court,” said Satterberg. “We have more than 5,000 cases waiting to be resolved.”

The data released by Satterberg’s office shows the number of shooting victims is up 21% from the county's three-year average. This year, 42% of the victims were under the age of 25. People of color accounted for 73% of the victims.

"It is just one year compared to the next so it is not a long term trend, but it is a concerning thing that we have had as many homicides this year so far as we did all of last year," Satterberg said.

Thomas wants to see more education for youth around this issue.

The Prosecuting Attorney's Office said King County needs to expand community partnerships and take a public health approach to rising gun violence.

“We have had a longstanding relationship with Choose 180 and Community Passageways, and we need to do more,” said Satterberg. “If city and county councils are looking to reinvest in the community, those are the kinds of groups that should get help because they help us stem the tides of violence. We need to invest in our communities and be able to match life coaches and mentors with young people who are heading down that wrong direction.”

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