SEATTLE – Two people were wounded Saturday in a shooting at Seattle Center, where the Northwest Folklife Festival was taking place. An adult man was quickly taken into custody, police said.
The shooting occurred shortly after 6:30 p.m. as thousands of people were enjoying the warm sunshine at the annual festival. Both victims were taken to hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.
Seattle Police spokeswoman Renee Witt said the shooting occurred near the International Fountain, a centerpiece of Seattle Center – a civic enclave that includes the Space Needle, theaters and other venues where the 1962 world’s fair was held.
Witnesses said the shooting occurred when a fight broke out near a drum circle.
“We were all hanging out and this guy tried to pistol whip another guy and the gun went off,” DeAnna Botello, who had gone to the festival with a group of friends and relatives, told the P-I.
A woman was shot in the thigh and her boyfriend was shot in the hand, but witnesses said neither was involved in the original argument.
Investigators later said both people were struck by the same bullet, and detectives were trying to determine whether the gun may have fired accidentally.
Seattle Police Communications Director Greg Schmidt said the suspect had a gun in an ankle holster and someone spotted the weapon and started arguing with the man.
“We’re not exactly sure how the firearm came out of the ankle holster,” Schmidt said. “But at some point in time it did come out, and there was a fight over the firearm.”
During that struggle, the single shot was fired.
The shot set off a panic.
“Then everybody ran,” Botello said. “One poor little girl almost got run over.”
Four people saw the suspected gunman running through the crowd, jumped him and held him until police arrived at what was by then a chaotic scene of screaming, fleeing people.