UPDATE* About 24 hours after this article was initially published, one of the victims, Summer Taylor, passed away from injures sustained during the incident.
Two women were critically injured at a protest in Seattle, after a 27-year-old man drove a Jaguar onto a closed freeway and plowed through a large group of demonstrators. The driver, Dawit Kelete, drove his car around other vehicles that were blocking Interstate 5 and sped into the crowd at about 1:40 a.m., according to a police report released by the Washington State Patrol.
— Seattle Community Info Center (@seattle_cic) July 4, 2020
24-year-old Summer Taylor is currently in critical condition, while the other victim, 32-year-old Diaz Love is in serious condition in the intensive care unit. Love was in the middle of live-streaming the protest when the car attacked the crowd, but the video quickly ended, only audio could be heard, but the video has since been taken down.
In another video that was taken from the scene, the Jaguar can be seen approaching the crowd without slowing down. The driver fled the scene after hitting the protesters, but was chased by other protesters for about a mile before he was finally stopped.
Shocking footage captures the moment a white sports car ploughed into protesters on a Seattle highway.The driver in a white sports car swerved around a blockade of vehicles set up by protesters before hitting two people, sending them flying into the air.Two female protesters in their 20s were struck, according to local officials, with one sustaining life-threatening injuries.
Posted by ODN on Saturday, July 4, 2020
The road that the suspect had driven on had been closed for hours by the time the incident happened, so while the motive is still unclear, it is unlikely that the driver was lost and blocked by rowdy protesters.
Trooper Rick Johnson told reporters that the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway in order to drive through the protest. Police are now investigating whether or not this was a targetted attack, but they said that the driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Captain Ron Mead, commander of WSP field operations for District blamed the protesters saying that “Listen, what happened this morning is a tragedy. I mean, it is a true tragedy. But what is occurring out here is unlawful behavior. It is illegal to block an interstate. Plain and simple. And the fact that this occurred for 19 days in a row. It needs to end. It needs to come to a stop.”
For weeks, demonstrators have been blocking I-5, where the incident occurred, on a nightly basis.
In early June, a driver sped toward the massive demonstration crowd in Seattle and shot one protester. The shooter, Nikolas Fernandez has been charged with one count of first degree assault in the incident.
Seattle was the site of the notorious Capital Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ, which was later renamed as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest or CHOP.
On Wednesday night, following an emergency order by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, heavily armed police entered the occupied zone and arrested 31 people. The Capitol Hill protest zone also suffered two deadly shootings amid a string of gun violence around the camp, which is one of the primary reasons that it was shut down.
Local governance in the zone was decentralized, with the goal of creating a neighborhood without police. On June 9, 2020, protesters demanded rent control, the reversal of gentrification, the abolition or defunding of police, funding of community health, and releasing prisoners serving time for marijuana-related offenses or resisting arrest, with expungement of their records.