'His eyes, he kind of looked at me.' Inside the shooting and carjacking in northeast Seattle
Two people died and two were wounded in a shooting spree and carjacking on Wednesday afternoon in northeast Seattle. One man is in custody.
Julie Russell was driving home after meeting with a client on Wednesday afternoon – a dog client; she owns Puppy Love Pet Care – when a red Prius sped toward her on Sand Point Way.
The Prius straddled the middle lane, she said, driving erratically and going about 55 miles per hour. She swerved to miss it and continued home.
When Russell got to her house moments later, a 50-year-old man was dying on her neighbor’s lawn. He had been carjacked and lost one of his shoes, a black orthopedic loafer, when he was thrown out of his car.
He had two bullet wounds to his head and blood was gurgling out of his mouth and his head. Neighbors and police performed CPR.
“His eyes, he kind of looked at me,” Russell said. But she didn’t stare.
“I just felt rude looking at him, because I know if I were dying I wouldn’t want someone staring at me,” she said.
Russell’s neighbors told her what they knew, and she began to make sense of the chaos. What follows below is a rough account of what happened on Wednesday afternoon, in the vicinity of 123rd Street and Sand Point Way, based on three eyewitnesses and official information.
The first 911 call came in at 4:05 p.m.
A man, age 33, had carjacked a silver car on Sand Point Way, a two-lane road that moseys up Lake Washington, through an older, wooded part of Seattle.
He shot the driver, and when the car veered off the road, the shooter jumped out.
A Metro bus approached, route 75. The man shot at the bus at least twice. Two bullets pierced the windshield. The driver slammed on the emergency alert. Twelve passengers were aboard.
Jessie Boore, a senior data analyst at Seattle Children’s Hospital, peeked through her curtains from her townhouse balcony.
“The bus driver showed great maneuverability in backing up,” Boore said.
The driver, Eric Stark, who describes himself as a father and husband on LinkedIn, “couldn’t quite make the turn so he stopped a little bit," she said.
"Then he just took off down the street," she said. "There was more gunfire after that…. I think he saved his passengers.”
From her townhouse, Boore watched as cars below tried to back away. Two men stood in traffic, helping, she said, Good Samaritans standing in the line of fire.
And then, for reasons unclear, a red Prius driver slowed down near the shooter. Did he know an active shooting was underway? Did he want to help?
The shooter ran alongside the Prius and, according to witnesses, shot the driver in the head, point blank.
The shooter opened the car door and flung the man’s body onto Julie Russell’s neighbor’s lawn.
“The poor guy was probably just driving home from work, being a kind citizen , like, ‘Oh this guy needs help, what can I do?’” Russell said. “And instead of giving help, he gets shot in the head twice… Brutal.”
Police asked her if she knew who he was, or where he lived. She didn’t.
“I assume that he was a random person who happened to be driving on Sand Point Way,” she said.
The gunman jumped into the red Prius. Sirens got closer.
He revved up the car and started driving and slammed into a smaller orange car, which jammed up against a tree. The driver of the orange car, a 70-year-old man, died in the crash. The shooter survived.
Police negotiated with the shooter, arrested him and sent him to Harborview, where the bus driver and the woman in the silver car had also been sent.
Jessie Boore asked a detective at the scene what had triggered the mayhem.
“Was this an altercation?” she said. Not that he could tell, he said.
“As far as they know, right now it’s random,” the detective told her.
The wounded: Eric Stark, bus driver, age 53, transported to Harborview Medical Center; 56-year-old woman who was shot in the back. Both were conscious when they arrived at the hospital, according to a spokeswoman. The suspect, also wounded, was 33.
The dead: A 50-year-old man, the red Prius driver; a 70-year-old man, the driver of the orange car.