SEATTLE — Two people in a Seattle homeless encampment were shot dead.
And now three boys — all teenagers — are in custody because of it.
Seattle police announced Monday night the arrest of three teenage suspects in connection with last week’s killings in the city’s longstanding homeless encampment known as “The Jungle.”
In addition to the man and woman who lost their lives on January 26, the shooter or shooters struck three others. One of them, a woman, remains in critical condition at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, Seattle police said. Another remains in serious condition, while another was released.
On Tuesday, a judge found probable cause to hold them for investigation of first-degree murder.
The suspects — boys ages 13, 16 and 17 — were arrested Monday in what police described as a “targeted” Jan. 26 shooting at the longstanding encampment known as the Jungle, about a mile from downtown. The 17-year-old appeared in court. Lawyers representing the other two waived the teens’ court appearances.
All three are being held on investigation of two counts of murder, three counts of assault and firearms violations.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said investigators believe the shooting was related to “low-level drug dealing.”
The killings took place about three months after the city and King County declared a state of emergency to address the issue, and just as Mayor Ed Murray was giving a live televised speech defending the city's approach to homelessness.
Murray said later that The Jungle, which is in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood about half a mile east of the Seattle Mariners' home of Safeco Field, has been "unmanageable and out of control" for more than two decades.
It had been scheduled for cleanup a day before the shootings, leaving the mayor to wonder if he acted too late.
Still, Murray insisted that officials cannot afford inaction now.
"We are involved in a homeless crisis, the like we have not seen since the Great Depression," he said after the shootings. "No city in America can deal with this (by itself)."