UPDATED 2/6/–The suspects in last month’s deadly shooting melee in downtown Seattle have been charged with several crimes including first-degree murder in a case many grassroots gun rights activists and one locally-based national Second Amendment organization say is an example of the failure of gun control.
William Tolliver and Marquise Tolbert, both 34, were jailed in Las Vegas, Nevada following their arrest in that city several days after the late January shooting. They are scheduled for arraignment Feb. 19 and are being held without bail.
A third participant in that shooting—which appears to have been a gunfight between rival gang members—is currently in jail facing a charge of unlawful firearm possession. All three suspects have lengthy criminal backgrounds that preclude them from legally possessing firearms, yet all three were carrying guns on Jan. 22 when the shooting erupted outside a McDonald’s restaurant. One woman was killed in the crossfire and seven others were injured.
Tolbert and Tolliver have 65 arrests and 35 convictions between them. That fact was not lost on the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which is based in nearby Bellevue but has a national membership. CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb weighed in on the tragedy just hours after it happened, noting at the time, “Instead of complaining about guns on the street, why aren’t officials in Seattle and Olympia working to keep people like these two suspects off the street? One of these guys reportedly has at least 44 arrests and 20 convictions, and the other has at least 21 arrests and 15 convictions. That’s just outrageous!”
UPDATE: According to court documents, both suspects were under the supervision of the Department of Corrections at the time of the shooting. Tolbert was “under bench warrant status at the time of the crime,” the charging documents say. Both suspects are gang members, the documents state.
“The firearms community would be delighted to work with lawmakers to find genuine solutions to violent crime,” he added, “but when we’re faced with an avalanche of legislation that only erodes the rights of honest gun owners and penalizes them for crimes they didn’t commit, that’s not a solution it’s a smokescreen.
According to an account at Seattle P-I.com, the incident was captured on video. It reportedly shows Tolliver and the third suspect, Jamel Jackson “exchanging words,” after which Tolliver draws a gun and shoots at Jackson, who draws and returns fire. None of the rounds Jackson fired hit anyone, but Jackson was wounded in the leg. The fact these people were all carrying guns was a violation of several laws, including the state’s longstanding concealed carry statute that dates back to 1935.
Killed in the incident was 55-year-old Tanya Jackson, an innocent bystander.
According to KING5 News, the local NBC affiliate, Tolbert and Tolliver fired at least 20 shots between them. They then fled to Las Vegas, allegedly driven there by Tolbert’s girlfriend, the Seattle P-I.com reported. That’s where the pair were arrested last weekend.
There is no shortage of irony in this case. Seattle has, in recent years, become a Northwest hub of gun control efforts, being the headquarters of the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, with a pro-gun control city government that rights activists consider “extreme.”
In 2014, the gun control group pushed through Initiative 594, which mandates so-called “universal background checks” on all firearms transfers. While the law has severely affected law-abiding gun owners and gun show operations such as those sponsored by the Washington Arms Collectors, it does not seem to have prevented any violent crimes involving firearms.
Two high-profile multiple murders committed with firearms—one in Mukilteo and the other in Burlington—happened in 2015, more than a year after the initiative took effect.
In 2015, the Seattle City Council hastily adopted a special tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition, driving one popular gun store out of the city and into a neighboring county. A look at Seattle police data reveals the city has not seen an appreciable decline in “shots fired” reports, and the number of firearm-related homicides has actually ticked upward.
Likewise, statewide in Washington, the FBI Uniform Crime Report, the number of homicides has gone up slightly, although nationally the number of homicides involving firearms has gone down slightly.