Firearm violence in King County on upward trend

King County prosecutors note a backlog in court cases, point to the pandemic as the reason why.

Map of all of the 2021 shots fired incidents in King County (credit to King County Crime Strategies Unit)

Map of all of the 2021 shots fired incidents in King County (credit to King County Crime Strategies Unit)

Firearm violence in King County appears to be on an upward trend over the past few years, according to data from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office – Crime Strategies Unit.

Data released this month shows that half-way through 2021, law enforcement agencies across the county have reported 580 collective incidents in which gunshots were fired. The county recorded less than 450 shots-fired incidents through the same point during 2020, 2019 and 2018.

While the number of shooting incidents is up around 33 percent from the four-year average, the number of shooting victims is up around 61 percent from the four-year average.

With just under 200 shooting victims, 154 non-fatal and 42 homicides, the county has well surpassed Q1-Q2 numbers from the last four years. Numbers of shooting victims from the first halves of the last four years have barely ever come close to surpassing 140.

Of the 196 shooting victims, 85 percent were male, 36 percent were between the ages of 18-24 and 80 percent were people of color.

Similar to previous years, nearly half of shooting victims, both fatal and nonfatal, were Black, according to the Shots Fired Report. Black people make up less than 10 percent of the population in King County, according to U.S. Census data from recent years.

King County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Satterburg called the uptick in shooting a “public health crisis,” and said there is no single explanation for the trend, but likely multiple contributing factors. He cited the pandemic, the protests and prevalence of firearms.

“The violence that has occurred has created a significant workload for the King County Superior Court and for the prosecutors in my office,” said Satterburg. “We now have over 250 open murder cases that we need to get to court.”

Satterburg said it will take some time for the court system to work through the backlog of cases, which he blamed on the pandemic.




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