The suspect and the victim in a deadly Seattle Church shooting Wednesday were part of a felony-diversion program, Community Passageways, which aims to give offenders an alternative to the criminal legal system.
The gunman entered the Emerald City Bible Fellowship shortly after 4 p.m. and confronted the victim before fatally shooting him, police said. About 40 people were meeting as a part of a Community Passageways event at the time.
“Our team, participants, and community are actively working together to begin a journey of collective healing as we mourn for the family and loved ones that were impacted by this tragic event,” Community Passageways said in a statement Thursday. “As an organization we are constantly reviewing our procedures and evaluating our protocols while engaging national experts to assure best practices continue to be in place.”
Police have not released the identity of the victim yet. A spokesman for the Seattle Police Department said the homicide unit “is following leads in an effort to identify and arrest a suspect.”
Community Passageways has been hosting meetings at Emerald City Bible Fellowship since 2016.
“Both of these guys are actually affiliated with the program that they’re going through, but it was supposed to be at different times, then one guy showed up at a time he wasn’t supposed to be here,” the building manager for the church told Fox News. “He came and he committed the crime.”
Community Passageways describes itself as a nonprofit “with a vision for zero youth incarceration” that believes “criminalization and ostracization are ineffective deterrents to unproductive behaviors.”
The organization has worked with 100 adults facing felony charges and helped reduce their total length of sentencing by 76%.
“The young people who have been able to stay in the community have gone on to start businesses, graduate from high school, attend college, and actively participate in changing the narrative of not only their own lives, but their communities,” Community Passageways explained.