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Spasm of shootings in US state leaves 4 dead; manhunt on for gunman in cafe rampage
SEATTLE (AP) ' Gunfire erupted in Seattle on Wednesday in two separate shootings, killing four people, critically wounding two others and setting off a manhunt that forced officials to close nearby schools.
The first shooting at a cafe left three dead. Police searching for the suspect had to respond to another attack in which a man fatally shot a woman in an apparent carjacking and fled in a black sports utility vehicle.
Authorities didn't immediately know whether the shootings were related.
The latest spasm of deadly gun violence to hit the city worried Seattle's leaders and prompted police to consider increasing patrols in high-crime areas. The three deaths bring the number of homicides to 19 this year, compared to 21 in all of last year.
Gunfire erupted late Wednesday morning at Cafe Racer, a restaurant and music venue north of the University of Washington. The gunman was described as a man in his 30s wearing dark clothes.
Two men died at the scene. A woman from the cafe died at a hospital.
Evan Hill, who lives above the building where the cafe shooting happened, said the cafe was an artists' collective and performance space.
"It's the strangest place to think of a shooting," said Hill, who heard four to five shots. He said he ran to his balcony and called 911, but didn't see a suspect.
On a street corner across from the cafe, friends of the victims gathered by the ivy-covered wall of an apartment building. Some collapsed in grief. The cafe's owner hugged them and commiserated.
Units of police officers marched by with rifles and shotguns, knocking on doors and checking driveways and yards in the neighborhood of single-family, bungalow-style homes, restaurants and businesses.
During the manhunt, Roosevelt High School, Eckstein Middle School and Greenlake Elementary were locked down, according to the school district.
In the second shooting, the SUV that the gunman fled in was later found, but the suspect remained at large, police said.
In the last month, there have been two random killings in the city.
Last week, a man died when a stray bullet struck him as he and his family drove down a Seattle street. In late April, a woman died of injuries suffered in an apparently random drive-by shooting near downtown.
No arrests have been made in either of those fatalities.
On Saturday, a bystander was wounded near the iconic Space Needle when he was struck by a bullet allegedly fired by a gang member involved in a dispute with another man, authorities said.
Later that night, about 60 shots were fired in drive-by shootings at four houses. No one was hit.
Besides the plan to increase the number of officers on patrol in high-crime areas, police are also urging people with information about shootings to come forward.
Some city leaders were skeptical those approaches would work.
"We have seen many community vigils, community mobilizations. We've heard about these strategies before," Councilman Tom Rasmussen asked at a briefing with police this week. "What's going to change?"