Police: Drug dispute likely started Seattle homeless attack

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Posted: Jan 28, 2016 12:13 PM
Police: Drug dispute likely started Seattle homeless attack

SEATTLE (AP) — A shooting at a Seattle homeless encampment that left 2 people dead and three others wounded appears to have originated with a drug-dealing dispute, according to the police chief.

"The investigators feel strongly that's probably the case, but again we always have to keep open minds in this type of investigation," Chief Kathleen O'Toole said Wednesday.

Officials with the King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the 45-year-old woman killed as Jeannine L. Zapata, who is also known by the last name Brook. They identified the slain man as James Q. Tran, 33.

No arrests have been made in the Tuesday evening attack. Police say they have eyewitnesses and believe at least two people were involved in the shooting.

Police said they believe the shooters weren't homeless and were acquainted with the victims. O'Toole said investigators have no evidence the people were targeted because they are homeless.

It was the second fatal attack at a homeless camp in Seattle within the past six months. In August, a homeless woman was beaten to death under a bridge and her husband was attacked.

Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Director Dow Constantine declared a state of emergency regarding homelessness in November, pledging more than $7 million to address the crisis.

Murray said Wednesday significant parts of the homeless services system in Seattle and throughout the country are broken.

Shelter is provided for 2,000 people a night in Seattle, but Murray said it's not enough. He reiterated a call he made in November for help at the federal level.

"These are humans. And for the most part, they're not criminals," he said.

O'Toole said police officers and social workers have been visiting other nearby homeless camps to reassure people that they are not in danger because of the shooting.

The conditions of the three wounded people continued to improve, with two in satisfactory condition. Their names have not been released.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com