A shootout in downtown Seattle that left a woman dead and a 9-year-old boy injured was the third violent incident this week in a part of the city long known for rampant drug use and street unrest.
Business groups implored officials to improve public safety. And while crime rates in Seattle are low compared to other big cities, critics say mayhem downtown – from shootings, to drug dealing and the effects of the city's ongoing homelessness crisis – makes locals and tourists feel unsafe.
The Downtown Seattle Association, a business group, said in a statement the area where Wednesday's shooting happened has been a high-crime spot for years. "We call on public officials to devote the resources necessary to improve safety in downtown," the group said. "We say enough is enough."
Three people, including the boy, remained hospitalized Thursday after police say several people opened fire, killing a woman. It was the third downtown Seattle shooting in two days.
"We will not allow this to be the new normal," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Thursday at a news conference. "We know gun violence is preventable and are taking urgent action."
Some of the immediate actions include putting more officers on streets where the shooting happened as well as a mobile police precinct that has been set up there, she said.
Authorities began receiving calls of multiple gunshot victims at about 5 p.m., said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. The person who died was a woman in her 40s, fire officials said. Seven people were treated for gunshot wounds, said Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
The condition of a 55-year-old woman was upgraded from critical condition to serious and a 32-year-old man and the boy were listed in satisfactory condition. Amazon, which has offices nearby and is the city's largest employer, said two of its workers who happened to be passing by were wounded, but their injuries were not life-threatening.
"We are deeply troubled by last night's events in Seattle and our thoughts go out to everyone impacted by this tragedy," Amazon said in a statement Thursday.
Video showed several people firing weapons after the dispute outside a McDonald's. Police including homicide and gang units were investigating.
"This is not a random incident, there were multiple people involved,"' said Police Chief Carmen Best. "There was a dispute that happened in front of the McDonald's, people pulled out guns, shots rang out, people ran in various directions."
Best said Thursday that one person wounded in the shooting is also a suspected shooter who was arrested at the hospital Wednesday night on a charge of unlawful gun possession. She said police were searching for two additional suspects considered armed and dangerous: Marquise Latrelle Tolbert and William Ray Tolliver, both 24. Records show both have lengthy arrest records and Durkan said both have gang connections.
Samantha Cook said she was in a nearby train station when she heard gunfire Wednesday.
"I was on the first set of escalators," Cook told The Seattle Times. "There were a lot of gunshots that started going off — maybe 10 or 11. It was just rapid fire."
Tyler Parsons told the Times he was working at a coffee shop when he saw people drop to the ground. Some took cover behind the cash register and Parsons took five or six customers to a storage area.
The shooting was "just kind of terrifying. Terrifying it's so close," Parsons said.
Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that he was "horrified and dismayed to hear about the shooting."
There were two other violent incidents in downtown earlier this week. Police found a man with a gunshot wound in a mall stairwell Tuesday, and he later died at a hospital. Police shot a person in another area of downtown earlier on Wednesday.
Crime is actually down in much of Seattle. According to statistics from the city, robbery was down 9% in 2019 compared to 2018 and aggravated assaults were down 4%. There were also fewer aggravated assaults and homicides (27 homicides in 2019 compared with 32 the previous year).
President Donald Trump will hold a signing ceremony for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement on Wednesday, according to the White House.
The deal to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement passed on bipartisan votes in Congress, scoring the president a significant political victory amid his Senate impeachment trial.
Mexico has already ratified the agreement. Canada must act next for it to fully enter into force.
Attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging a federal regulation that could allow blueprints for making guns on 3D printers to be posted on the internet.
New York Attorney General Tish James, who helped lead the coalition of state attorneys general, argued that posting the blueprints would allow anyone to go online and use the downloadable files to create unregistered and untraceable assault-style weapons that could be difficult to detect.
The lawsuit, joined by California, Washington and 17 other states, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It is likely to reignite a fierce debate over the use of 3D-printed firearms and is the latest in a series of attempts by state law enforcement officials to block the Trump administration from easing the accessibility of the blueprints.
Proponents have argued there is a constitutional right to publish the material, but critics counter that making the blueprints readily accessible online could lead to an increase in gun violence and put weapons in the hands of criminals who are legally prohibited from owning them.
Washington state's attorney general Bob Ferguson said a previous multi-state lawsuit led a federal judge last year to strike down the administration's earlier attempt to allow the files to be distributed.
"Why is the Trump administration working so hard to allow domestic abusers, felons and terrorists access to untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns?" Ferguson said in a statement.
For years, law enforcement officials have been trying to draw attention to the dangers posed by the so-called ghost guns, which contain no registration numbers that could be used to trace them.
A federal judge in November blocked an earlier attempt by the Trump administration to allow the files to be released online, arguing that the government had violated the law on procedural grounds. But the administration published formal rules on Thursday that transfer the regulation of 3D-printed guns from the State Department to the Commerce Department, which could open the door to making the blueprints available online.
The state attorneys general argue the government is breaking the law and say such deregulation will "make it far easier for individuals ineligible to possess firearms under state or federal law to obtain a deadly weapon without undergoing a background check," according to the lawsuit. They also argue that the Commerce Department lacks the power to properly regulate 3D-printed guns.
"Ghost Guns endanger every single one of us," James said in a statement. "While the president and his Administration know these homemade weapons pose an imminent threat, he continues to cater to the gun lobby — risking the lives of millions of Americans."
In 2015, Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed sued the federal government after it told him to remove online blueprints of a 3D-printed gun. The State Department reached a settlement with the company in 2018 and removed the 3D gun-making plans from a list of weapons or technical data that are not allowed to be exported. But a coalition of state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to stop the maneuver, arguing that undetectable plastic guns pose a national security risk.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday.
In addition to Washington, California and New York, the states suing are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia.
"We successfully challenged the Trump administration's first reckless attempt, and we will continue to fight against this latest attack on the safety of our communities,'' California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
Three American firefighting airplane crew members were killed Thursday when the C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker they were in crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia, officials said.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the deaths in the state's Snowy Monaro region, which came as Australia grapples with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction.
Canada-based Coulson Aviation said in a statement that one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission. It said the accident was "extensive" but had few other details.
"The only thing I have from the field reports are that the plane came down, it's crashed and there was a large fireball associated with that crash," Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.
He said the crewmen were aged 42, 43 and 45.
"We will be forever indebted to the enormous contributions and ultimate sacrifice that's been paid by these extraordinary individuals," Fitzsimmons said.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she had conveyed Australia's condolences to U.S. Ambassador Arthur Culvahouse Jr.
"Our hearts go out to their loved ones. They were helping Australia, far from their own homes, an embodiment of the deep friendship between our two countries," she said in a statement.
Payne added: "Thank you to these three, and to all the brave firefighters from Australia and around the world. Your service and contribution are extraordinary. We are ever grateful."
The tragedy brings the death toll from the blazes to at least 31 since September. The fires have also destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 10.4 million hectares (25.7 million acres), an area bigger than the U.S. state of Indiana.
The three were part of a crew on a California-based tanker, the governor of that state said in a statement on Thursday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom did not identify the crew members but called them heroes.
Coulson grounded other firefighting aircraft as a precaution pending investigation, reducing planes available to firefighters in New South Wales and neighboring Victoria state. The four-propeller Hercules drops more than 15,000 liters (4,000 gallons) of fire retardant in a single pass.
Spokeswoman Robyn Baldwin of Coulson, with headquarters in the Canadian province of British Columbia and extensive U.S. operations, declined to identify the crew members or say what U.S. states they were from.
"We ask for privacy at this time as we mourn the loss of our crew members," Baldwin said.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the national air crash investigator, and state police will investigate the crash site, which firefighters described as an active fire ground.
"There is no indication at this stage of what's caused the accident," Fitzsimmons said.
Berejiklian said there were more than 1,700 volunteers and personnel in the field, and five fires were being described at an "emergency warning" level — the most dangerous on a three-tier scale — across the state and on the fringes of the national capital Canberra.
Also Thursday, Canberra Airport closed temporarily because of nearby wildfires, and residents south of the city were told to seek shelter. The airport reopened after several hours with Qantas operating limited services, but Virgin and Singapore Airlines canceled flights for the rest of the day.
The blaze started Wednesday, but strong winds and high temperatures caused conditions in Canberra to deteriorate. A second fire near the airport that started on Thursday morning is at a "watch and act" level — the middle of the three tiers.
Residents in some Canberra suburbs were advised to seek shelter and others to leave immediately.
"The defense force is both assisting to a degree and looking to whether that needs to be reinforced," Chief of Defense Angus Campbell told reporters.
"I have people who are both involved as persons who need to be moved from areas and office buildings that are potentially in danger, and also those persons who are part of the (Operation) Bushfire Assist effort," he said.
Want to find a legal marijuana shop in California? Grab your smartphone.
In another step to curb the state's flourishing illegal pot market, California regulators proposed rules Thursday that would require legal shops to post a unique black-and-white code in storefront windows to help consumers identify licensed businesses.
Shoppers could use their smartphones to scan the familiar, boxy label known as a QR code — similar to a bar code — to determine if a business is selling legal, tested cannabis products.
The codes also would be required when transporting or delivering cannabis.
"The proposed regulations will help consumers avoid purchasing cannabis goods from unlicensed businesses," said Lori Ajax, who heads the state's Bureau of Cannabis Control. "These requirements will also assist law enforcement in distinguishing between legal and illegal transportation of cannabis goods."
California — the world's largest legal pot market — kicked off broad, legal sales in January 2018. But the illicit market has continued to thrive, with consumers spending roughly $3 in the state's underground pot economy for every $1 in the legal one, a report from industry advisers Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics estimated last year.
Hefty tax rates have been blamed for steering consumers into the illicit market, where shops are often indistinguishable from legal ones and operate in plain sight.
Last year, the state mounted a publicity campaign — Get #weedwise — to encourage consumers to verify that their purchases are tested and legal. Ads were posted on social media and billboards promoting a state website where shoppers can quickly check if a shop is licensed.
The advertising campaign makes a simple argument: You don't know what you're getting if you buy illegal products.
The state also has sought to increase enforcement to shut down illegal shops and cultivation sites.