October Subscriber Drive: Become a CHS subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month

Capitol Hill massacre victims unforgotten at 22nd and Republican

Capitol Hill Shooting Memorial 2.JPGFriday will mark 10 years since six people were killed by a single gunman in an early morning shooting rampage at a Capitol Hill house party. The victims were 14-year-old Melissa Moore, 15-year-old Suzanne Thorne, 21-year-old Christopher Williamson, 22-year-old Justin Schwarz, 26-year-old Jeremy Martin, and 32-year-old Jason Travers.

As with so many mass shootings since, there is still no real explanation for what prompted 28-year-old Kyle Huff to embark on what was likely the most violent 10 minutes in Capitol Hill history. Stories and letters published in the days following the tragedy painted Huff as an introverted and isolated young man. Those who knew him from his hometown of Whitefish, Montana remembered him and his twin brother as inseparable outcasts, quiet and shy. Huff’s north Seattle landlord described him as respectful.

On the night of the shooting, residents of the 22nd and E Republican house were hosting an afterparty following a rave, billed Better Off Undead, at the now-shuttered Capitol Hill Arts Center on 12th Ave. Huff was reportedly invited to the house while at the rave, but was not close with anyone at either party. After arriving to the house and making some small talk, Huff left. A short time later he returned, heavily armed, just before sunrise.

Across the intersection, a longtime resident named Susan was looking for her morning newspaper when she noticed a man across the street spray painting “NOW” on the sidewalk.

She thought it was strange but not alarming, and went back inside. Minutes later Susan heard what she initially thought were firecrackers. Then came the screams. She went outside again and watched as the man she saw spray painting emerged from the house, placed the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. “It was very traumatic,” she said. “I remember it all.” The Temple of Light, AKA the Seattle Memorial Temple

The Temple of Light, AKA the Seattle Memorial Temple2006 - Temple of Light at dawn - Noctilucent clouds from the impending sunrise

Susan, who requested to be identified by her first name only, recounted the story in front of her house this week, just steps away from the scene of what became known as the Capitol Hill massacre. In the days following the shootings Susan brought pizza out to mourning family members and friends, and even set up facilities in her yard for people who were holding vigil at the site.

Further details about Huff and how the Capitol Hill massacre unfolded were revealed in a report commissioned by Seattle Police. In 2011 a Seattle filmmaker started a fund raising campaign to produce a movie about Huff. Backlash to Jagger Gravning’s trailer for Wallflower was swift and strong at the time, but the film is apparently now in production. Gravning has not yet responded to a CHS request for comment.

A decade after the shooting, the 22nd and E Republican house remains and is still surrounded by neighbors who were there when tragedy struck their quiet Capitol Hill block. Susan, who has lived on the block since 1978, said that morning is still fresh in minds of many of those neighbors.

“I can’t walk past that house without remembering it,” she said. “When something that tragic happens it never leaves you completely.”

As a retired director of a crisis outreach center, Susan also knows better than anyone that we will probably never fully understand what motivated Huff to do what he did. How he did it, however, is painfully clear

“I think the answer is that a person who was mentally ill was easily able to access guns and ammunition. Lots of it,” she said. “We see it every day, this was just our neighborhood.”

Capitol Hill Shooting Memorial 1.JPG

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

16 thoughts on “Capitol Hill massacre victims unforgotten at 22nd and Republican

    • Understood. Sadly, there are many around the neighborhood who are totally unaware of this tragedy, so we thought it was important to inform readers on what happened that day.

  1. “there is still no real explanation for what prompted 28-year-old Kyle Huff”

    I assumed the answer was religion, as he killed all those people because he thought they were heathens. He was specifically upset by their sexual freedom. He went to the rave that night with this in mind already. You can find his letter to his brother, which I believe he had already written, online.

  2. I remember this day, week, year all too well. Such an incredible tragedy. I’ve thought of it often and it still brings me dread. Rest in peace.

  3. I live just a couple of blocks away from this house. I did not hear the gunshots, but I absolutely remember waking to all the sirens and wondering what it was that had taken place. I walk by several times a week, and always think about all those involved with what happened…

  4. Incredibly sad day I remember too well. RIP Melissa, Suzanne, Justin, Christopher, Jeremy and Jason, you are not forgotten.

  5. I covered this terrible incident for the weekly and still have bad flashbacks. I remember interviewing the victims’ friends and relatives and all the grief that was just pouring out of people. I still have trouble believing that this happened.

  6. I had left only a short time before. Lost good friends and would have lost more if Steve Leonard hadn’t been on scene so quickly.

    Please don’t say his name. The community, families, and victims matter. He’s another white male who couldn’t handle his powerlessness and turned to violence. Don’t give him what he wanted.

  7. Thank you.

    Every year less and less people remember. Recently the news showed a chart of “mass shootings” in Seattle and it didn’t show this.

  8. As someone close to the victims of that shooting, thank you for this article.

    That said, an otherwise important piece was marred by painting mental illness as the source for this sort of violence.

    It’s lazy, unsubstantiated, and serves to smear a group of extremely marginalized and stigmatized people who are far more often the victims of violent crime than the general population, and who aren’t generally violent themselves.

    I know it’s natural to want to monster Kyle Huff, and distance ourselves and other someone who could be capable of calculated mass murder and such a callous disregard for like. I certainly want to. It’s also natural to want to try to make sense of it. All these years later, I still find myself trying to make sense of it as though that would lessen the hurt, even though I know better.

    However, that’s irresponsible. What’s at work here is a much larger than any one of these simple things like “oh, mental illness” or “easy access to guns” We can start with the general social and economic malaise in the US, both in terms of a growing sense of hopelessness and widening income disparity. The the fact that white, protestant society is losing ground with respect to it’s centuries long stranglehold on culture and institutions in the US, and that makes people who are losing things they took for granted afraid and angry. That’s as likely an explanation for the number of white mass shooters in the US as Jihad is for Islamic mass murderers in the US. We could just as easily look to lack of human contact in the way we rear our boys to explain why these mass shooters are almost always men. There’s even research that correlates that lack of touch to violence later in life.

    I’d hate to see the death of my friends turned into an excuse to scapegoat people living in the margins, and I don’t think that’s what they would have wanted, and while this was a sing quote from a witness, it went printed and uncriticized, and it makes me wonder what sort of judgement was exercised in printing that quote.

    Best regards,
    Danah