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Homicide in Cal Anderson: What we know so far (UPDATE)

On Wednesday, March 20 at 11:35 pm, the Seattle Police Department released a statement announcing “homicide detectives are investigating after a man was shot and killed in … [Cal Anderson] park Wednesday night” due to a “disturbance in the basketball courts.”

Witness calls to 911 began a little before 10:00 pm that evening, after which “officers quickly arrived and found the 21-year old man unresponsive with a gunshot wound.” As of the statement’s release, “officers on scene are still working to develop a possible suspect description.”

The victim was pronounced dead upon the arrival of medics according to Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Kristin Tinsley.

On March 24 the King County medical examiner released the victim’s name as Hakeem Salahud-din — not Hakeem Talley, as Capitol Hill Seattle Blog had reported two days earlier. His cause of death was a single gunshot wound to his head. No further details of the circumstances surrounding Salahud-din’s death were included in the report, but a GoFundMe allegedly set up by his sister to fund funeral costs and a KIRO 7 interview with his cousin both claim he was “trying to break up a fight.”

Salahud-din was the father of two children and had one more on the way with his fiancee. He had been released from jail just a week before his death. Sharron Sanford, Salahud-din’s cousin, said he was working to get his life back on track for his fiancee and children, adding “I’m just going to… miss what could have happened in the future.”

As of April 8, SPD has released no news regarding their search for the shooter.

A photo of Hakeem Salahud-Din, the 21-year-old man shot in Cal Anderson Park on March 20

This is the second fatal shooting of 2019 in Capitol Hill; the shooting of 24-year-old Jafar Mack, which took place on January 11 near the intersection of Broadway and Pike, also remains unsolved.

The fact that both Mack and Salahud-din were young black men is demonstrative of a larger trend in King County gun victims. A 2017 analysis of gun violence in King County showed that almost half (49%) of shooting victims were under the age of 25, 83% were male, and 55% were Black or African American.

In fact, 83% of all shooting victims in King County were people of color (which the analysis classified as any victim who was Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino, or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander) even though people of color make up only 29% of the county’s total population.

While Seattle’s homicide rate remains below the national average — 2.3 homicides per 100,000 people in 2018 as opposed to the national rate of 4.9 per 100,000 — the number of killings in the city has seen an increase. In 2018 there were 31 homicides, the highest of the previous ten years. A significant number of these were shootings.

In 2019, the count of gun deaths in Seattle has continued to rise. On March 27 two men were killed, a man and a woman were critically injured, and another woman’s car was hit in the Sand Point neighborhood when a gunman opened fire on a Metro bus and several other vehicles after what appears to have been an attempted carjacking. That suspect is now in custody.

According to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs “2017 Crime in Washington Annual Report,” firearms are used “in commission of [a] crime” in 57.5% of murders and 22.9% of aggravated assaults.

In a message sent on Friday March 22, Seattle Central’s Public Information Office informed all students and staff that “there was a violent encounter that ended in a homicide at Cal Anderson Park, close [to] our Broadway campus” and warned them to be safe by walking in well-lit, well-populated areas — especially late at night — and trusting their gut.

If you are ever on or near campus and feel unsafe, please do not hesitate to call campus security at 206-934-5442 or emergency services at 911. Furthermore, anyone with information on the shooting is encouraged to call SPD’s homicide tip line at 206-233-5000.

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