A “relentless” investigation into the deadly shooting at a homeless camp in Seattle called “The Jungle” last week has led to the arrests of three boys.
The suspects were detained at a different homeless camp beneath an Interstate 90 off-ramp, less than a mile away from the shooting site, where two people were killed and three others wounded, NBC News reported.
None of the suspects have been named, and police haven’t determined whether they are homeless, according to the Seattle Times. The boys are 13, 16, and 17. The victims, however, have been identified since the shooting. The dead are Jeannine L. Zapata, 45, and James Quoc Tran, 33, both of them killed by multiple gunshot wounds.
After someone opened fire on a group huddled around a campfire on the night of January 26, officers arrived to find the ground littered with five victims. Tran was pronounced dead at the scene, and Zapata died at a nearby hospital. The survivors — two women and a man — are still in the hospital. One of the women is in critical condition, and the others are in serious condition, CNN added.
The night of the shooting, witnesses said that a couple men arrived at the camp and had intended to kill one person in particular — someone named “Fats” — over drugs and money. Law enforcement confirmed that he was among the wounded. Investigators believe three people were on the scene, two of them shooters.
The motive is still unknown, but police have confirmed that it was over “low-level drug dealing.” According to Assistant Chief Robert Merner, the crime was “very targeted,” and the incident wasn’t random; both shooters and victims knew each other. But it’s still not clear what motivated these boys.
Merner called the camp shooting a “senseless act of violence.”
For now, charges haven’t been filed against the suspects, and it’s not clear what they’ll face; they’re being held in a youth detention center “for investigation of homicide.” The investigation also recovered a gun, which the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will probe to determine whether it was used in the crime. Several locations and vehicles were also searched.
Police aren’t looking for more suspects in the killings, which have shined a spotlight on Seattle’s ongoing crisis, Mayor Ed Murray said afterward.
“We are involved in a homeless crisis, the like we have not seen since the Great Depression. No city in America can deal with this (by itself).”
The Jungle is a notorious camp in Seattle. Contained in a wooded stretch along Interstate 5, from Sodo to Beacon Hill, it’s been around since the 1930s, when a Hooverville Shantytown extended there, according to KUOW. In the following decades, the Interstate was built, but the name — given to such shantytowns — stuck.
Three months ago, the city declared a state of emergency to address the homeless issue. As part of this crisis, Murray said The Jungle has been “unmanageable and out of control” for 20 years and was scheduled for cleanup a day before.
An estimated 4,500 people across Seattle and King County are currently without homes.
Now friends and relatives are mourning two people who had their own homes but had been pulled back to their homes under the Interstate by addiction.
Tran was an out-of-work manicurist and remembered by his girlfriend as loving and a good father. He struggled with drugs and alcohol for years, but had been sober for a couple months and was considering rehab. Zapata had overcome a crack addiction years ago and lived in The Jungle for 10 years during her struggle. Her family said she may have been there that night visiting friends.
[Photo By Elaine Thompson/AP]