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News / Northwest

What to know about the shooting outside Garfield High School

By The Seattle Times
Published: June 7, 2024, 11:22am
5 Photos
Students console each other after a shooting outside of Garfield High School on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Seattle.
Students console each other after a shooting outside of Garfield High School on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Seattle. (Nick Wagner/The Seattle Times/TNS) Photo Gallery

A 17-year-old Garfield High student was shot and killed in the school parking lot Thursday.

Police are still searching for the shooter, who is believed to be a high school-aged male. Garfield has canceled classes for Friday and Monday.

Here’s what to know about the shooting:

  • What happened?

Officers responded at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday to reports of gunfire at the school and found the 17-year-old student on the ground, Deputy Seattle Police Chief Eric Barden said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The shooting happened during lunchtime. Police said the student had multiple gunshot wounds.

The student had tried to break up “an altercation” between two boys, Barden said. He said one of the boys was “apparently angry” and exchanged words with the victim before shooting him and running away. Police said the shooter fled on foot.

Officers applied chest seals to the student’s wounds and gave first aid until Seattle Fire Department paramedics arrived. The student was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he was taken into surgery.

In a post on X around 6:20 p.m. Thursday, Seattle police confirmed the student’s death.

  • Who is the shooter?

The shooter is believed to be a high school-aged male. Police said he was wearing a red sweatshirt, light blue jeans and white sneakers when he fled on foot.

Detectives are reviewing surveillance camera footage and interviewing witnesses. Barden encouraged anyone with information about the shooting or the shooter’s identity to call 206-233-5000.

  • How is Garfield addressing the shooting?

The school went into lockdown shortly after the shooting. Students were released after 3:15 p.m. Thursday.

Classes are canceled Friday and Monday. Support and wellness staff members will be available Friday for drop-in counseling at nearby Nova High School.

“Each time I must report an incident of gun violence on or near our campus, it is tough, but this message is the hardest yet to send,” Garfield Principal Tarance Hart said in an email to families Thursday night. “I am deeply saddened by the violence in our community and profoundly disturbed by the devastating impact it continues to have on our school.”

  • How has the community responded?

Mayor Bruce Harrell, a Garfield graduate, directed the Seattle Police Department to enhance patrols around the school. He also reiterated his stance toward investing in crime-fighting technology.

“I can’t use the word ‘trauma’ enough to describe what our children are going through,” Harrell said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “This is not the first shooting at Garfield, and these kids deserve better.”

Interim police Chief Sue Rahr, at the same news conference, said her department wants to “work with the community” to help students and families feel safe.

But many parents and students of Garfield High said they are frustrated by another shooting as they reach the end of a school year riddled by gun violence. Some people called for reintroducing school resource officers — police officers placed in schools — at Garfield.

A student was shot in March while waiting for her bus outside the school. There was also a shooting outside the school in October and a string of nearby shootings last June that did not involve students but prompted increased security on campus.

“I’m really raw,” said Melanie Skinner as she waited for her daughter, a Garfield student, to come outside. “It’s become so normalized.”

After the shooting in March, Skinner said, she helped organize a protest calling for more intervention to prevent gun violence near the school. Skinner said she doesn’t want her daughter returning to campus. She will be at graduation, she said, but Thursday was her last day at Garfield.

Serafina Alberoto, 16, and Meriyem Roba, 16, both Garfield sophomores, said the school’s students are struggling emotionally, and some have been drawn into gangs. Their social media feeds often show fellow students posing with guns, they said.

Speaking Thursday afternoon after the shooting, the students said their counselors are overworked, and available appointments with the school’s therapist are rare.

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“We need to give them hope of a future, because if they think they’ll die at 25, why not do this?” Roba said, gesturing at the crime scene tape.

Community members are planning a “silent march” at 9 a.m. today from Garfield High to the Seattle Public Schools headquarters in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood.