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Police seek information on string of SR 509 shootings, including one that left teen blind

On December 20, a window of a family's car was shot out on SR 509, and the teen who was hit lost his eyesight. Police still search for the suspect.

SEATTLE — A team of law enforcement agencies is seeking information about 11 incidents near State Route 509 involving gunfire at cars and homes, including one shooting from last month that left a teen blind.

On December 20, a family was traveling southbound on SR 509 south of the First Avenue Bridge near Seattle’s South Park neighborhood when the front passenger window was shot out. A 14-year-old boy who was riding in the car was struck in the head and lost his eyesight.

"Our hearts ache for the victim and his family members," said King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht.

Law enforcement believes the outcome may not have been intentional, and the suspect may not be aware of the consequences of the shooting. 

The suspect may exhibit several behavioral changes, they believe: sudden, unexpected mood swings, intense interest in media coverage, increased drug or alcohol use and withdrawal from social/daily activities.

Washington State Patrol said it has received other reports of shots fired at homes and cars over the last few months, beginning with one in June when a suspect fired shots at four cars on SR 509 near Sea-Tac Airport. 

"The reality is as late as last night we had another shooting incident," said Capt. Ron Mead of the State Patrol. "So it's our belief these are continuing, and we want to bring these to a stop as quick as we can."

Police do not know if the shootings are connected, but said they are investigating the possibility. They also do not know if they are seeking one suspect or several for the shootings.

A task force has been formed to investigate the shootings with the help of several agencies. The group includes members of state patrol, the sheriff’s office, Des Moines police, and Port of Seattle Police with assistance from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

ATF will provide special agents, as well as laboratory and technical assistance.

Of the 11 incidents, seven are being investigated by Washington State Patrol, three by Des Moines Police, and one by King County Sheriff's Office.

"In large part to the relationships that we have, I think we’re on this large pattern very, very quickly," said King County Undersheriff Scott Somers.

"The family of the young man shot in the eye - our job is to bring justice, and to serve that family the best that we can," Somers said. "We can't take away all the pain, but we can do our jobs and bring the family some relief."

If you have any information about these shootings, call (425) 401-7880 or email SR509shootingtip@wsp.wa.gov. Authorities said if you hear or witness gunfire in the area of SR 509 - first call 911.

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