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3 teens arrested in homeless encampment shooting deaths

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Two people in a Seattle homeless encampment were shot dead.

And now three people — all of them teenagers — are in custody because of it.

Seattle police announced Monday night the arrest of three teenage suspects in connection with last week’s killings in the city’s longstanding homeless encampment known as “The Jungle.”

In addition to the man and woman who lost their lives on January 26, the shooter or shooters struck three others. One of them, a woman, remains in critical condition at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, Seattle police said. Another woman and man are in serious condition.

Authorities did not immediately say what charges, if any, the three teenage suspects face. Nor have police identified them beyond their ages — 13, 16 and 17 years old — and that they were arrested “near 4th Avenue S. and Royal Brougham Way following a relentless investigation.”

Motive is also one big question mark, at least publicly.

Assistant Police Chief Robert Merner previously said authorities “have reason to believe (the shooting) was very targeted,” though it’s unknown what may have driven these three teenagers specifically.

The killings took place about three months after the city and King County declared a state of emergency to address the issue, and just as Mayor Ed Murray was giving a live televised speech defending the city’s approach to homelessness.

Murray said later that The Jungle, which is in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood about half a mile east of the Seattle Mariners’ home of Safeco Field, has been “unmanageable and out of control” for more than two decades.

It had been scheduled for cleanup a day before the shootings, leaving the mayor to wonder if he acted too late.

Still, Murray insisted that officials cannot afford inaction now.

“We are involved in a homeless crisis, the like we have not seen since the Great Depression,” he said after the shootings. “No city in America can deal with this (by itself).”

By Greg Botelho and Ed Payne