Fatal shootings up by 64% in King County in 2021
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office released their 2021 year end “Shots Fired” Report, a data analysis which shows the numbers of fatal shooting victims, non-fatal shooting victims, and total shots fired incidents for 2021.
During a media availability, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, and Brian Wynne, Supervisor of the Crime Strategies and Violent Crimes Units in the County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, shared the report’s findings, which showed an increase in the number of fatal shooting victims, nonfatal shooting victims, and overall shots fired incidents in 2021 compared to the average of the previous four years.
“The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office report, which is the most comprehensive gun violence analysis available in King County, makes clear what many of us know anecdotally: 2021 was a violent year in our community,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Satterberg. “While we have and will continue to prosecute perpetrators of firearm violence, this data analysis is part of our broader, public health approach that is required to achieve lasting reductions of firearm violence.”
Here are the top takeaways from the report
·The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office data analysis shows that shootings are up county-wide.
o Our Crime Strategies Unit collects information from the 39 law enforcement agencies and puts together the data map.
o We do that work to make public health, informed decisions about how and where to work with communities to reduce gun violence.
o For more information, visit: www.kingcounty.gov/gunviolencedata
·The major takeaway is that the number of shots fired incidents (1405 total) increased in 2021 (26% increase) compared to the four year average of 2017-2020.
·The number of overall shooting victims (460 total) increased in 2021 (56% increase) compared to the four year average of 2017-2020.
·The number of fatal shooting victims (88 total) increased in 2021 (64% increase) compared to the four year average of 2017-2020. There were 17 more fatal shooting victims in 2021 compared to 2020.
·The number of nonfatal shooting victims (372 total) also increased in 2021 (54% increase) compared to the four year average of 2017-2020. There were 102 more nonfatal shooting victims in 2021 compared to 2020.
·Gun violence continues to disproportionately impact people of color and particularly young Black men. Of the 460 shooting victims in 2021:
- 81% of the shooting victims (379 people) were people of color
- Nearly half (48% or 225 people) of all shooting victims were Black or African American
- 85% of the shooting victims (390 people) were men
- 28% of the shooting victims (133 people) were between 18-24
·These increases are not unique to King County. Nearly every major city, and many rural areas, have seen an increase in firearm violence since the start of 2020. There is no single explanation behind the increase, but the common explanations of the pandemic, the effects of shut down social services on individual and community health, and the prevalence of guns are all likely contributing factors. This article offers a pretty balanced take of this national phenomenon.
Background on the Shots Fired Project:
In 2017, Dan Satterberg partnered with Public Health – Seattle & King County in launching the Shots Fired Project – aimed at uniformly collecting and standardizing data on illegal shootings in King County. Our reports are the most comprehensive firearm violence analyses available in King County, and are published on a quarterly basis. These reports help inform prevention and intervention strategies designed to reach individuals the data suggests are most at risk of firearm violence victimization. While we will continue to prosecute the perpetrators of firearm violence, we recognize that a broader, public health approach is required to achieve lasting reductions of firearm violence.
In 2021, Satterberg advocated for a $2 million gun violence prevention grant program through King County Council to fund community-based violence interruption work. Our office is also partnering with several organizations in an effort to deploy community-based intervention and prevention responses to firearm violence. CHOOSE Freedom, a program in partnership with CHOOSE 180, utilizes our Shots Fired data to prioritize community engagement with those most at risk of firearm violence victimization between the ages of 18 -24. In addition, BRAVE, a program in partnership with Highline School District, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, and the City of Burien, prioritizes engagement with youth within the Highline School District who may be at risk of firearm violence victimization.
Additional Crime Data:
The number in each of these crime categories is determined by the number of cases referred to us by police investigators. When a case is referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, we review it independently. However, we can only review a case when it is referred – and there are many ongoing investigations.
Number of murder/manslaughter cases charged in 2021, 2020, and 2019:
- 2021: 63
- 2020: 81
- 2019: 54
Number of cases charged that involved one or more counts of unlawful gun possession:
- 2021: 417
- 2020: 490
- 2019: 454
Number of cases charges involving serious violence (includes all cases involving one or more counts of Assault in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, and Burglary in the First Degree):
- 2021: 1,164
- 2020: 1,485
- 2019: 1,573