CHOP Protesters Pleaded for Help and Received None

by Elizabeth Turnbull

In the early morning of Saturday, June 20, following two shootings directly outside of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) barricades, fire department safety protocols and the pleas of volunteer medics and bystanders collided. 

At 2:19 a.m., bystanders called 911 after a young adult male was shot on 10th Avenue and East Pine Street.

Following the gunshots, protesters began clearing the street in front of Rancho Bravo restaurant in order to allow potential Seattle Fire Department (SFD) medical vehicles to enter after hearing confirmation, by monitoring live fire department dispatch communications, that a medical vehicle was coming to assist the victim, according to David Lewis, a fixture at the Seattle protests who was on site the night of the shooting.

“Everyone was clearing the way for all medical staff continuously,” Lewis told the Emerald. “Of course we want — we needed the medical staff, we needed them to be here and with that confirmation we were clearing all cars, all people.”

Lewis also said that in the days before the shooting they had negotiated with city officials on specific routes for emergency vehicles to have access to the street in front of Rancho Bravo where the first shooting victim received aid on June 20.

Ultimately, the Seattle Fire Department never attended to the victim, who eventually died of his injuries, and did not utilize the route that provided access to Rancho Bravo due to a safety protocol which necessitates that the police clear a scene of violence before medics can arrive. In the absence of SFD first responders, volunteer CHOP medics transferred the victim to Harborview Medical Center.

Volunteer medics said that at some point in the early morning of June 20, they took the first shooting victim to a rendezvous point with the intention of transferring him over to Seattle Fire Department (SFD) medics for proper care, according to John Moore, a volunteer CHOP medic who assisted the first shooting victim.

While Moore said that he had discussed rendezvous points with the fire department in the days before the shooting, SFD did not arrive at what Moore believed to be a rendezvous point on the morning of June 20, he said in an interview with citizen journalist Omari Salisbury.

“We’ve had a couple incidents with Seattle fire dispatch where we’ve had medics with critical patients where we were trying to meet at rendezvous points, and when we get there the Fire Department’s not there,” Moore said. “We had that [on June 20] with the man who passed.”

SFD said that prior to the shootings on June 20, they had communicated that a patient collection location would be relayed via 911 dispatchers in the event of an incident such as the shooting. According to SFD, no patient was brought to the 911 caller-designated patient collection location of Broadway and East Pine Street during the time that SFD was staged a block away. 

However, the fire department timeline indicates that the 911 dispatcher was informed the victim was being taken to meet SFD medics at 2:19 a.m. whereas the fire department medics did not begin staging on Broadway between East Pike Street and East Union Street until 2:30 a.m.

The Seattle Fire Department also received conflicting reports between 2:33 and 2:38 a.m., that the patient was being taken to Broadway and East Pine Street to be transferred to SFD medics, according to the SFD timeline. 

The first shooting victim arrived at Harborview Medical Center at 2:42 a.m. after volunteer medics transported him away from the area surrounding 10th Ave and East Pine Street between 2:32 and 2:35 a.m.

Ultimately, SFD did not attend to the first shooting victim or the second June 20 shooting victim, due to the time it took for safety protocol procedures to be carried out. However, this did not diminish cries of desperation and bewilderment at SFD’s apparent failure to respond in the moment. 

After the first victim had been shot, one bystander named Joseph Malone ran to Fire Station 25, located at 1300 East Pine Street, to urge SFD medics to provide aid to the shooting victim. After he arrived at the station, Malone started recording on his phone as a fire engine looked as if it was going to leave the station in what may have been an effort to provide aid to the shooting victim.

In the video, Malone shouts “10th and Pine,” the location where he believed the victim was located at the time. Just as the fire engine appears to be leaving the station, it backs up into the garage and the garage doors are closed shortly thereafter. 

Malone said it was difficult at first to understand why the doors were being closed and why the fire engine wasn’t going to leave the station to provide assistance.

“It was upsetting for me. I was confused and hoping my worst fears were wrong but I think they were right,” Malone said. “Emergency services essentially refused to help a dying man.”

Following the closure of the garage, one volunteer CHOP medic knocked on the garage doors of the station and pleaded with a man inside the garage, who appeared to be an SFD medic, to come and help the victim. In Malone’s video, the volunteer medic relays that she had been doing CPR on the victim and had been trying to control his four bullet wounds for the past ten minutes.

After SFD medics failed to come out of the station she appears to be on the phone with an emergency dispatcher before she falls on her knees and begins crying near the intersection of East Pine Street and 12th Avenue. 

Malone believes he took his video between 2:27 a.m. and 2:38 a.m., at which point the fire department said they already had medic crews staged at the scene and that is why the fire engine went back into the garage. 

According to SFD, their crews ultimately did not provide medical aid due to the safety protocol timeline, as the victim was being transported by volunteer medics to Harborview Medical Center before the police arrived on scene to clear the area. The fire department also claims that individuals with firearms appeared to knock on the door of Fire Station 25. 

Malone says that during the time he was in front of the fire station, no one appeared to have a firearm and that to claim someone did have a firearm would be an extraordinary claim deserving of extraordinary evidence. The fire department did not specify when exactly they had witnessed someone with a firearm knock on the door. 

Another video released from that night shows one man pleading with medics in fire department vehicles while they were staged on Broadway. In the video, the man filming shouts, “You could be saving this man’s life right now,” and pleads with the medic to think of the shooting victim as if he were the medic’s own son. 

In the video, the SFD medic seeks confirmation over an intercom that the fire department medics had not been cleared by police to assist the victim. The man filming continues to plead with him, telling the medic that the protesters will make sure medics are clear. 

After it became apparent to volunteer medics that the SFD medics staged in the surrounding blocks were not coming soon to assist the young man who had been shot, volunteer medics transported the first shooting victim to Harborview Medical Center between 2:32 and 2:35 a.m. 

Between 2:32 and 2:40 a.m. the police entered the area where the first victim was shot, at which point protesters informed the police that the shooter and the victim were no longer there.

A police report detailing SPD’s entrance said that officers were met by what they described as a “violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims.” 

An SPD video of the police entrance shows protesters yelling, “they’re gone,” likely referring to the victim or the shooter. In a video taken by Omari Salisbury, protesters do appear to congregate around police officers at one point near the Rancho Bravo parking lot, but the video was filmed from a distance and no visible physical violence toward police is apparent in the video.

Lewis called the account of violent crowds “completely inaccurate,” and said that the crowds were simply informing the police that the shooter was not there. Since the shooting took place outside of the CHOP barricades and the protesters had cleared the streets, Lewis said there was nothing preventing officers from coming in. 

Moore also denied the police’s account of a violent crowd. He said potential frustration among the crowd may have been explained by SFD’s failure to provide medical care to the victim and because the police only arrived after the victim was gone. If the fire department had shown up on scene to assist the victim, Moore said they would have been greeted as heroes and the crowd would have been “singing their praises.”

At roughly 2:50, another individual named DeJuan Young was shot on 11th Avenue and East Pike Street. Young did not receive medical aid from SFD either. Instead, he was taken by protesters to Harborview Medical Center at 2:55 a.m., ultimately arriving at 3:06 a.m.

While little is known so far about the fatal shooting of the first victim, a 19-year-old named Lorenzo Anderson, Young believes he and Anderson were shot by different people and thinks the individuals who shot him may have been white supremacists. 

In an interview with KIRO7, Young said he felt like the police did not try to protect him and that their response was inadequate. 

“I understand everyone’s gonna say it’s the CHAZ zone and you all asked for the police not to be there so don’t act like you all need them now, but technically I was outside of that area,” Young said. “I was in Seattle streets, so what’s the excuse now?”

Outside of the shootings, Moore and Lewis relayed that protesters have had trouble obtaining outside medical assistance in the past. In particular, both cited an instance in which one protester named Aubreanna Inda was critically injured after being hit in the chest with a flash bang which had been launched by SPD. 

Moore said that in that instance, similar to the night of June 20, the Seattle Fire Department failed to meet volunteer medics at the rendezvous point. 

Kristin Tinsley, the Senior Communications Manager of the Seattle Fire Department, said that she had not heard of failures in regards to an SFD response to Inda’s injuries and would have to look into it before providing more information. 

Following the shootings on June 20, the Fire Department released a statement saying that they had loaned two stretchers and basic medical supplies to the volunteer medics on the morning of the 20th. Following the shootings on June 20, SFD pre-designated patient collection points which they communicated to volunteer medics.

SFD also stressed that on the morning of June 20, the fire units remained ready to receive the patients once SPD deemed the scene secure, and never left the perimeter of the scene until they received word that both of the patients had arrived at the hospital.

Overall, Moore said that the gap between SFD response times is what the volunteer medics at the CHOP are there to fill. 

“[Anderson] would have had to wait for the police to come in and for the medics to follow him in,” Moore said. “By that time we had already gotten him to definitive care.” 

Lewis believes the response to the shooting on June 20 showed a lack of care on the part of the police and what he believes was a failure to allow fire department medics to assist in the situation. 

“Their inability to show compassion and understanding towards these protests has now cost us a life and that family a life,” Lewis said.  

It is not clear if 19-year-old Lorenzo Anderson, who was fatally shot, had any connection with the protests in the CHOP. 

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to clarify that DeJuan Young believes that he may have been a victim of a hate crime perpetuated by white supremacists, not Lorenzo Anderson. We will update this article as we learn more about the perpetrators in both of these shootings.

Elizabeth Turnbull is a Seattle-based journalist. 

Featured image: CHOP memorial for Lorenzo Anderson, 6/20/20 (Photo: Alex Garland)