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Originally published Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 9:41 PM

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Car chase, gunfire close freeway; shooter still at large

Interstate 5 South was closed for nearly two hours Sunday night after a car chase and gunfire spilled onto the freeway.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A hostile encounter at a festival in Seward Park late Sunday afternoon escalated into a car chase and gunfire that spilled onto Interstate 5, causing a chain-reaction crash that closed down all southbound lanes for nearly two hours.

One man was shot and two innocent bystanders were slightly injured in the crash. The shooter drove away and was still at large late Sunday, according to Seattle Police.

According to the State Patrol, police were looking for a Green Chrysler Sebring.

The incident is the latest in a string of gun violence that has gripped Seattle this year, though never with such a broad spillover effect.

Traffic on the freeway was already heavy from an afternoon Mariners game, and remained slow after police opened a single southbound lane.

The shooting victim is a 20-year-old man who attended the Pista Sa Nayon Filipino Festival at the park on Lake Washington with his 17-year-old nephew, Seattle police said. He told the police that he had seen the suspects at the park, and that they started following him in a gray or green car.

When the victim got into his blue Chevy Suburban, the suspect vehicle chased him from Seward Park and through the Beacon Hill neighborhood, where an unknown number of suspects started shooting. The vehicles raced along Beacon Avenue South and to the intersection of South Columbian Way and South Spokane Street, with bullets flying from the pursuing car.

A parked car in the 5900 block of Beacon Avenue South was damaged by gunfire.

The vehicles merged onto I-5 South, with the victim driving in the carpool lane. The suspect pulled up to his left, wedging his car between the concrete lane barrier and the SUV, still shooting, according to police.

The victim was hit in the shoulder.

Seattle police say the SUV then set off a chain reaction just north of the Boeing Access Road exit, crashing into a silver Kia and sending it careening into a Toyota. The Kia rolled.

Meanwhile, the SUV crashed into the Jersey barrier and came to a stop.

Seattle Fire crews pulled two females — a 43-year-old mother and her 14-year-old daughter, both from Tacoma — from the overturned Kia, said spokesman Kyle Moore. They also tended to the injured driver of the SUV, whose bullet wound was serious but not life-threatening, according to Moore.

The man's 17-year-old nephew was uninjured. The driver of the Toyota was also uninjured.

The three injured people were transported to Harborview Medical Center. Their conditions were not immediately available late Sunday.

In the melee, the window of another southbound vehicle was shot out by a stray bullet. The driver, who was not injured, continued to West Seattle and called police.

With the freeway closed, investigators searched the pavement for shell casings.

Police said there was no indication the victim fired back at the suspect, and no gun was found in his vehicle.

Seattle has experienced 22 homicides so far this year, two more than in all of 2011. All but two of the killings have been by gunfire.

The violence has rattled the city and prompted Mayor Mike McGinn to hold a town-hall meeting to talk about it. Police have increased patrols in hot-spot areas, and state and federal prosecutors promised prison time for criminals caught with guns.

On Sunday evening, the Filipino festival continued peacefully. Police at the event said they didn't see anything unusual.

Staff reporters Steve Miletich and Jonathan Martin contributed to this report. Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or sdoughton@seattletimes.com

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