Five people were shot at an illegal street racing gathering in Kent early Sunday morning, May 20, 2023, Renton Police announced.
The disturbing incident took place amidst an already chaotic scene at the Kent/Renton border of East Valley Highway and South 180th Street (map below), where hundreds of street racers and spectators had gathered, according to law enforcement sources.
The violent incident came to light when a patrol sergeant, conducting an investigation into a separate collision at around 1:15 a.m., suddenly heard the piercing sound of gunshots emanating from the vicinity.
Renton Officers responded and discovered the grim reality of the situation – five victims had fallen prey to the gunfire, all of whom are currently receiving medical attention at nearby hospitals.
Disturbingly, this is not the first time authorities have been forced to intervene in a shooting incident at a street race in the area. Merely a day before, Renton police had been summoned to a similar occurrence in the same vicinity.
Police say that hundreds of vehicles and people filled the parking lots of the 76, Chevron, Planet Fitness, and the Great Wall while people lined the streets and drifted across all lanes of traffic.
On another recent night, Renton Fire engine E314 was caught in the crowd while people threw things at the crew and tried to climb on it.
“The number of injuries from these activities are staggering,” Renton P.D. said. “Car wrecks and spectators hit by vehicles are the norm now. This happens every weekend because people are not stopped from gathering. SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE IMMEDIATELY.”
Renton Fire adds:
“Our members will not be able to provide critical care in an unsafe environment and nothing about this is safe. The delay in time it takes to secure a scene so responders can safely care for the injured could be the difference between life and death. Call your city and email your council and ask how they are supporting the Police department to keep everyones safety a priority. Help support our brothers and sisters in law enforcement so they can do their job and let’s work together to keep our streets safe. Videos scraped from publicly available Instagram posts.”
Meanwhile, authorities in Kent are grappling with the aftermath of the shooting, diligently investigating the incident. However, they are eagerly awaiting the enforcement of a new state law slated that won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2024, which would grant them the power to impound street racers’ vehicles for up to 72 hours. The impending legislation has raised hopes of breaking the cycle of repeated offenses, as voiced by Kent Mayor Dana Ralph in her testimony to legislators.
“We are witnessing a disconcerting pattern of these vehicles returning to the streets. They may have faced citations on a Friday, but by Saturday, they’re back to racing again. Thus, we hope that this provision can serve as an effective deterrent,” Mayor Ralph said, emphasizing the urgent need for action.
Endorsing the bill, Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla appeared before lawmakers, shedding light on the alarming rise of such events due to the inadequacy of existing deterrents.
“The scale of these incidents continues to expand due to the lack of adequate measures,” Padilla cautioned during his testimony.
The forthcoming legislation will enforce the forfeiture of vehicles following a second offense and empower law enforcement to charge and prosecute organizers and promoters of street racing events as accomplices.
Hundreds of street racers gather in Kent at East Valley Hwy and 180th every weekend. On 05/19 Renton E314 was caught in the crowd and put our safety on the line. SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. Contact your city and ask what they are doing to support our police so this behavior ends pic.twitter.com/z68DLEIp1y
— Renton Firefighters (@RentonFireL864) May 21, 2023
Our organization is deeply saddened and concerned by the recent shootings that endangered both our firefighters and our community members over the weekend. Please see the following press release, including commentary from Fire Chief Steve Heitman. #forimmediaterelease pic.twitter.com/Fxq2OmKHBq
— Renton Regional Fire Authority (@RentonRFA) May 22, 2023