SEATTLE -- Three Seattle Police officers were injured, and a 19-year-old man is dead after an armed robbery and exchange of gunfire in Downtown Seattle Thursday afternoon. Two other suspects are now in custody.
The ordeal began just after 1 p.m. with a reported robbery at the 7-Eleven in the 600 block of 1st Avenue.
Amanda Clark says her friend who works at the 7-Eleven tried to chase after a teen girl who was among those robbing the store.
"(He) tried to grab the girl to get the merchandise back," Clark said. "They had stolen a bunch of stuff - the female tried to steal a case of alcohol and my friend got that back but as soon as he saw the gun he backed off. (He) came back into the store and called the cops."
Officers arrived on scene and came in contact with the 19-year-old man and 17-year-old girl suspected in the robbery, according to Deputy Chief Carmen Best with Seattle Police. A fight ensued between one officer and the male robber, and as the two fought on the ground, the girl came up and hit the officer on the head with a bottle, then both suspects ran off, Best said.
As they fled, the man fired at police, who fired back, Best said.
The girl was eventually captured, but the man ran into a nearby building in the 900 block of 1st Avenue and barricaded himself inside, Best said. Employees inside the building were told the shelter in place.
As officers went after the robber, he opened fire, striking three officers, according to Best.
A 42-year-old female officer was struck in her bullet-proof vest and had relatively minor injuries, Best said. A 30-year-old male officer was struck in the chin and the rib cage. Another officer, a 27-year veteran of the force, was grazed on the hand. The third male officer, who was hit in the head with the bottle, was treated at the scene.
The two officers directly hit were rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where the the male officer was originally listed in critical condition with potentially life-threatening injuries, but was upgraded to serious, but stable condition a short time later, according to a hospital spokesperson.
"He's doing as well as you can expect, considering the circumstances," Best said.
The 42-year-old female officer was released from the hospital around 9:30 p.m. Police said the two were two- and three-year veterans of the department.
"The men and women of the Seattle Police Department responded today with courage and with bravery to a very hostile scene," said Best.
Best said the suspected 19-year-old robber who was holed up in the building was eventually found dead by officers . But police haven't given any details on how he died.
"While the department can confirm that officers did fire their weapons during the incident, the cause of the male suspect’s death will be determined and released by the King County Medical Examiner," Seattle Police said in a statement posted on their police blotter web page.
Officers originally released a description of a man who was potentially a third suspect, but later determined that person had nothing to do with the robbery.
Later Thursday afternoon, police again said that based on evidence gathered from the 17-year-old girl, they identified a third person involved. That suspect, also a 19-year-old man, was taken into custody just before 6 p.m. and is being interviewed by detectives.
"Every cop in town showed up"
Brian Wilcox was delivering concrete across the street from where the ordeal began.
"Officers started coming down Western and a suspect ran into the Federal Building," Wilcox said. "And then shortly after, he ran in there then police followed him in there with weapons drawn. Then gunshots were exchanged, then all of a sudden, just about every cop in town showed up."
Wilcox said he saw a male and female police officer come out that appeared to have been the two that were shot.
"A female officer -- they were checking underneath her body armor-- she walked out under her own power," Wilcox said.
The officers who fired weapons will be placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Seattle police are also seeking any photographs or video from the scene. Anyone with information or photos should call Seattle Police at 206-684-5550.