On Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) released its 2021 year end “Shots Fired” report, a data analysis that shows the numbers of fatal shooting victims, non-fatal shooting victims, and total shots fired incidents for King County in 2021.

The report says that the number of shots fired incidents – 1,405 total – increased in 2021 by 54% compared to the four year average between 2017-2020.

There were 17 more fatal shooting victims in 2021 compared to 2020.

Shootings in King County are not evenly distributed by jurisdiction, KCPAO said. Data was collected from over 20 agencies, but a majority of the data comes from 8 jurisdictions: Seattle, Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Tukwila, and the King County Sheriff’s Office (including Burien, 15 other cities and unincorporated King County). These 8 agencies account for roughly 79% of King County’s population. In 2021, over 62% of the total shots fired incidents and 59% of the shooting victims (both firearm homicide victims and non-fatal shooting victims) were from agencies outside of Seattle. Both of these are slightly higher than the four-year average for 2017-2020 in which 60% of all shots fired incidents and 58% of all shooting victims were from agencies outside of Seattle.

Other stats:

    • The number of overall shooting victims (460 total) increased in 2021 by 70% compared to the four year average of 2017-2020.
    • The number of nonfatal shooting victims (372 total) also increased in 2021 by 82% compared to the four year average of 2017-2020. There were 102 more nonfatal shooting victims in 2021 compared to 2020.
    • Gun violence continues to disproportionately impact people of color and particularly young Black men. Of the 460 shooting victims in 2021:
      • 81% of the shooting victims (379 people) were people of color
      • Nearly half (48% or 225 people) of all shooting victims were Black or African American
      • 85% of the shooting victims (390 people) were men
      • 28% of the shooting victims (133 people) were between 18-24

These increases are not unique to King County. Nearly every major city, and many rural areas in the country have seen an increase in firearm violence since the start of 2020, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

Additional Crime Data:
The number in each of these crime categories is determined by the number of cases referred to the KCPOA by police investigators. When a case is referred to KCPAO, they say they review it independently. However, they can only review a case when it is referred – and there are many ongoing investigations.

Number of murder/manslaughter cases charged in 2021, 2020, and 2019:

    • 2021: 63
    • 2020: 81
    • 2019: 54

Number of cases charged that involved one or more counts of unlawful gun possession:

    • 2021: 417
    • 2020: 490
    • 2019: 454

Number of cases charges involving serious violence (includes all cases involving one or more counts of Assault in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree, Robbery in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, and Burglary in the First Degree):

    • 2021: 1,164
    • 2020: 1,485
    • 2019: 1,573

“There is no single explanation behind the increase, but the common explanations of the pandemic, the effects of shut down social services on individual and community health, and the prevalence of guns are all likely contributing factors,” KCPAO said. “This article offers a pretty balanced take of this national phenomenon.”

In 2017, Dan Satterberg partnered with Public Health – Seattle & King County in launching the Shots Fired Project – aimed at uniformly collecting and standardizing data on illegal shootings in King County. These reports are the most comprehensive firearm violence analyses available in King County, and are published on a quarterly basis, officials said these reports help inform prevention and intervention strategies designed to reach individuals the data suggests are most at risk of firearm violence victimization.

“While we will continue to prosecute the perpetrators of firearm violence, we recognize that a broader, public health approach is required to achieve lasting reductions of firearm violence,” KCPAO said.

In 2021, Satterberg advocated for a $2 million gun violence prevention grant program through King County Council to fund community-based violence interruption work. His office is also partnering with several organizations in an effort to deploy community-based intervention and prevention responses to firearm violence.

CHOOSE Freedom, a program in partnership with CHOOSE 180, utilizes the Shots Fired data to prioritize community engagement with those most at risk of firearm violence victimization between the ages of 18 -24.

In addition, BRAVE, a program in partnership with Highline Public Schools, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, and the City of Burien, prioritizes engagement with youth within Highline Public Schools who may be at risk of firearm violence victimization.

Below is video of the KCPAO’s 2021 Year End Gun Violence Data Report, released Jan. 31, 2022. Speakers includeKing County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, and Brian Wynne, Supervisor of the Crime Strategies and Violent Crimes Units in the County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office:

Download the report here.