Gang ties seen in Seattle shooting

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A blue bandanna on the steering wheel and a "13" insignia on a passenger’s belt.

Those were signs of gang membership inside the car that was blasted with bullets at a Seattle intersection, a 15-year-old girl who was injured in the Sunday night gunfire told a Seattle newspaper.

A 22-year-old man, who was shot in the head, died the next day. He was identified Wednesday by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office as Jorge Temblador-Topete.

A 20-year-old man who was driving, the 15-year-old girl and her 14-year-old sister were wounded. The only one in the car who was unhurt was the girls’ mother.

The shooting capped a weekend of violence in downtown Seattle. A gunfight early Saturday outside a nightclub had left five young men wounded.

Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said Tuesday that the Sunday night shooting appeared to be retaliation, but he declined to say what may have prompted vengeance. He said the gunfire, like other recent Seattle shootings, was likely tied to gang activity, drugs, or both.

A police officer told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the shooting victims’ car, an Oldsmobile Cutlass, was decked out in "full gang accessories."

The 15-year-old girl, a Fall City area resident, said her boyfriend had wrapped his blue bandanna, the one he nearly always wore, around the steering wheel. The back-seat passenger, an acquaintance, was wearing a "13" insignia on his belt.

The number "13" denotes a southern California gang and such numbers are not generally worn by people who do not know their significance, a King County sheriff’s official said.

However, the girl denied having any gang ties and said she doubted anyone else in the car did.

"I moved up here from California to get away from that," she said Tuesday in her hospital room. "I came up here ‘cause I didn’t want to see all that stuff."

Police were still looking Tuesday for the shooter.

The five people from near Fall City, a rural town about 15 miles east of Seattle, had gotten lost on their way to a dance at the Stadium Exhibition Center. Their car was stopped at a red light when someone jumped out of another car.

The 15-year-old saw a man approaching the driver’s side window.

"He didn’t say anything. He just started shooting," she said Tuesday.

The 14-year-old girl was in serious condition early Wednesday at Harborview Medical Center, and the 15-year-old girl and 20-year-old man were in satisfactory condition there, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Police are looking for tips from the public.

"We need some assistance on this one," police spokesman Clem Benton said.

The Sunday night shooting appeared unrelated to a gunfight seven blocks away early Saturday morning in which five young men, two of whom police identified as gunmen, were wounded outside the Bohemian Cafe and Lounge, a music club in Pioneer Square.

Police said earlier that the Pioneer Square shooting was gang-related. Investigators found more than a dozen semiautomatic handgun rounds in a nearby parking lot.

Two of the five young men were treated at Harborview and released. A 25-year-old man was listed in serious condition early Wednesday, a nursing supervisor said. An 18-year-old man was upgraded from serious to satisfactory condition, and a 26-year-old man remained in satisfactory condition.

Police added 15 to 20 officers to downtown patrols before last weekend’s shootings after an apparently unrelated series of beatings in and around the Belltown neighborhood. After Saturday’s gunfight, an additional dozen officers were added to the Pioneer Square and surrounding downtown areas.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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