Seattle FD issues statement on shooting at protest zone

The statement explains the department's procedure for responding in a "volatile situation" and outlines measures taken to assist the zone's volunteer medics

By Laura French

SEATTLE — The Seattle Fire Department has issued a statement in the wake of a fatal shooting in the city's Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone. 

One person was killed and another was critically injured in the shooting early Saturday morning, according to the Seattle Times. Fire department and police units responded to 911 calls from the scene but did not enter the zone and reach either victim. Both victims were ultimately assisted by volunteer medics from the zone and transported to the hospital in private vehicles. 

"CHOP" is painted on a barricade Wednesday, June 17, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. The Seattle Fire Department has issued a statement following a fatal shooting in the zone that occurred Saturday morning. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The statement published Sunday explains why fire department units did not enter the zone, saying "our crews do not have training to go into a volatile situation to extract patients, which is why we have instructed people to walk or bring the patients to the perimeter of the crowd or transport in a private vehicle to the hospital to expedite medical treatment." 

Fire department crews waited about a block away from the CHOP zone for police to arrive and clear the medics to enter the area safely, according to the Seattle Times. Police staged about seven blocks away and approached with shields and their guns drawn. Officers retreated after being met with angry protesters saying the victim had already been taken to the hospital, video shows.

An earlier video shows protesters begging fire department medics to come to the victim as they waited outside the zone. 

"Our mission is to save lives and protect property, but we must keep our firefighters and paramedics safe so we can continue to help people," the fire department's statement reads. "This was a scene where the risk was too high to commit our crews to respond in without a police escort."

The statement adds that crews did not leave the perimeter of the scene until they received a report from the hospital that both shooting victims had arrived in private vehicles. It also includes a list of measures "outside of our normal response strategies" taken to ensure patients inside the CHOP zone receive medical treatment, including the lending of wheeled stretchers, mega movers, fire extinguishers and basic medical supplies to volunteer medics.

The department also established patient collection points outside the zone in cooperation with volunteer medics. 

A second shooting at the CHOP zone injured one person on Sunday night, the Seattle Times reported. Fire department units arrived at their predesignated staging location and were shortly after notified that the victim was taken to the hospital in a private vehicle. 

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