Shooting Near UW Campus Prompts Security Measures

Nov. 1--Booze-induced brawls and yelling matches are nothing new on the University of Washington's Greek Row, but a violent weekend that included a double shooting outside a nearby rooming house and fistfight in front of a frat house has prompted one fraternity to institute a curfew and has other houses weighing similar security measures.

Seattle police say they will step up patrols where fraternity and sorority houses are, north of the UW and south of the Ravenna neighborhood, and along University Way.

Eric Godfrey, vice provost for student life at UW, said that over the past month crime has spiked in that neighborhood. In fact, he said, the recent fights, shootings and crimes involving non-students have made the neighborhood the most unsafe he has seen in his 25 years with the school.

"It's an extraordinary situation," he said, adding that the university is working to ensure the safety of students living in the area.

A man and woman, both 23, were shot and wounded early Sunday morning when they stepped outside a party at a rooming house near campus. Police suspect the victims were caught in crossfire as two people shot at each other.

"Obviously this was a pretty violent weekend," said Seattle police Lt. Carmen Best. "What we're doing to stop that is to get more resources out there before it gets out of control."

Typically, Best said, noise complaints are the biggest problem for police patrolling the neighborhoods close to campus, so the weekend violence has struck a chord in and round the university.

Cori Hammock, coordinator of UW Greek Life, which works with the 45 residential chapters on campus, said that in response to the weekend violence the Delta Upsilon fraternity has set a 2 a.m. curfew for members. She said such measures are rare in the school's Greek system.

When Hunter Volk, president of Delta Upsilon fraternity, announced the curfew during a Greek leadership meeting Monday with Godfrey and UW Police Chief Vicky Stormo, the idea "resonated with the other [chapter] presidents," Godfrey said.

"I would certainly hope others would adopt that as well," Godfrey said. "Certainly extraordinary measures need to be taken now. That's one common-sense measure to take."

Volk, 21, said the curfew came about because of the shootings and because a group of five men attacked several of his fraternity brothers. At 3:45 a.m. Sunday, almost two hours after the shootings, the five non-students taunted then punched several Delta Upsilon members in their parking lot, Volk said. There were no serious injuries.

The men came to Greek Row apparently looking for a fight, Whittmier said. The five, all of whom were arrested, taunted fraternity members to start the brawl.

"I'm just trying to take more active steps to keep my guys safe," Volk said.

During the meeting Monday, Godfrey said, the chapter presidents were told to make sure their parties are kept indoors. The students were told to advise members to lock their doors, walk in groups and pay attention to suspicious people around them.

Godfrey said an e-mail advising similar safety tactics will be sent to non-Greek students who live in the area.

"We're finding the bigger problems [near the UW] are around the rooming houses and the parties they're having," said University of Washington Assistant Police Chief Ray Wittmier . "The real problems tend to be people who do not live in the University District. Sometimes they'll come up from Tacoma or down from Bellingham looking for some sort of party or social activity."

No arrests have been made in the shootings, and the Seattle Police Department gang unit is investigating. Police said the woman was hit in the neck and the man hit in the groin and leg. The man remains hospitalized in satisfactory condition.

"One of the common denominators here is the people who are causing the problems are setting up confrontational situations with the people ending up to be the victims," Whittmier said. "We're telling people to let your ego go and not get into that confrontation. Just avoid it."

Best said officers will visit neighborhood rooming houses to make sure residents are also focused on safety during parties. Police will be working with landlords if residents become a concern, she said.