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Sunday, March 26, 2006 - Page updated at 01:01 AM

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Interviewed for hours, witnesses sought food, sleep

About 30 young people who were inside the house when the gunman opened fire were put on a bus and taken to the Seattle Police Department's headquarters on Fifth Avenue for interviews.

Afterward, a small group of them stood outside smoking following questioning by detectives. Most declined to comment, saying they needed food and sleep before they could begin making sense of the tragedy. A couple of them wore paper jumpsuits because they didn't have time to dress before hurrying out of the house. One man had blood smeared along his neck and another had blood on the legs of his jeans.

"Welcome to the Columbine of Seattle," said one young woman who declined to give her name but said her boyfriend who had been shot. "He's on the operating table now," she said. Minutes later, the woman could be heard screaming and crying from inside the front lobby.

— by Sarah Jean Green

'Colorful kids,' neighbor says

Neighbors say the house was one of the only rental houses in an area where homes sell in the half-million dollar range. Some people have lived there as long as 60 years. But the house on Republican stuck out in other ways, too.

Numerous neighbors said a group of 20-somethings — they're not sure how many — moved in about six months ago. They were "colorful kids," said Bonnie Morrison, who lives about a block away, describing them as pierced and tattooed, with distinctive clothing. William Lowe, another neighbor, recalls that a number of tenants or visitors had painted their faces one day, including one who painted an elaborate sunburst around his eye.

What stuck out most was the parties, which were regular events, lasting well into the morning. Most of the time, the parties weren't loud, music-blaring bashes, but they were loud enough that most everyone in the area noticed.

"They weren't good neighbors but they weren't bad neighbors, Lowe said.

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The scene wasn't such a nuisance, however, that police saw the house as a trouble spot, Seattle Police Department spokeswoman Deanna Nolette said. Indeed, neighbors say their biggest concern about the area was speeding drivers, a topic they discussed regularly at neighborhood meetings.

— by Maureen O'Hagan

'I got shot. I got shot,' victim tells neighbors

Cesar Clemente Jr., who lives across the street from the scene of the shooting, was preparing for his morning bike ride when the shots rang out. He came downstairs where his son had just ushered a young man into their home.

"I saw his body laying there inside the house," Clemente, 51, said. "He said, 'I got shot. I got shot.'"

Clemente called 9-1-1.

The victim was slumped across the threshold of the red two-story house on Republican where the Clementes have lived for 26 years. He wore a black T-shirt, a pacifier around his neck and what Clemente described as "sci-fi gloves," referring to the light-tipped gloves some ravers wear.

The victim held his right side. A shotgun pellet fell from his wound, Clemente said.

He asked Clemente Jr. to take the gloves off. "I got shot," the victim repeated. "It hurts."

Minutes later paramedics took away the victim. His black T-shirt and blood were left on Clemente's doorstep.

— By Benjamin J. Romano

Couple escapes by locking bathroom door

Two survivors of this morning's shooting on Capitol Hill locked themselves in a bathroom and narrowly escaped the deadly barrage.

One of the pair, Garry Will, a 20-year-old Bellevue man, talked about the shooting after he had been taken downtown and interviewed by detectives. He was among a group of 30 questioned by police.

Standing outside police headquarters on Fifth Avenue, Will said he and his 17-year-old girlfriend had attended a rave, called "Better Off Undead," at an art space on 12th Avenue last night.

In addition to DJs and dancing, the man said he met people who invited him to an after-party at the Capitol Hill rental house.

"It was pretty chill," Will said about the party.

Just before the shooting began, the man said his girlfriend called him to an upstairs bathroom to chat as she applied some makeup. Nearly everyone in the home had been there for several hours, he said.

"We heard gunshots and screaming and I opened the bathroom door and looked down the stairs and saw flashes from the gunshots. It was pretty intense," he said.

He locked the bathroom door and he and his girlfriend crouched in the bathtub.

"After all the gunshots, [the shooter] came upstairs and tried to open the [bathroom] door. He shot a round through the door and the bullet whizzed by my face," the man said. The gunman then went back downstairs, he said.

"We thought we were going to die, plain and simple," Will said.

— By Sara Jean Green

Director says rave was easy, friendly

Matthew Kwatinetz, artistic director for Capitol Hill Arts Center, said a group called Funshine Productions came to him last week and asked to rent his venue for the rave after another venue fell through. Friday night, about 200 to 300 people were at the event at any one time, he said. The space is licensed to hold 471.

A crew of 15 security guards searched people for weapons and drugs before entering the center, Kwatinetz said.

"It was very mellow, easy, and friendly. There were no problems, not even a raised voice. It was one of the funnest events I've been to."

Kwatinetz said the arts center has hosted 1,500 events over the past year. The party ended at 4 a.m., he said, and everyone was gone by 4:15. He said he stayed until 5.30 to clean up.

— By Seattle Times staff

Police chief, mayor win anti-gun honors

One day before the Saturday morning shooting, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske was honored by Washington CeaseFire, a gun-safety, advocacy organization for efforts to end gun violence in Washington state.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels also was thanked by the group for his work.

Kerlikowske was given the Delores Jones Person of the Year award for his work to toughen gun safety laws, according to CeaseFire.

"It is a sad irony, that in less than 24 hours after receiving an award for his work to end gun violence, Chief Kerlikowske is on the scene of one of Seattle's deadliest shootings ever," said Ralph Fasceteli, president of Washington CeaseFire.

— By Seattle Times staff

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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