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Monday, July 31, 2006 - Page updated at 12:25 AM

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Family, friends remember those killed in Capitol Hill shootings

Seattle Times staff reporter

Victims of last spring's Capitol Hill massacre were memorialized Sunday with a procession from the neighborhood to Seattle Center, where a new art installation gives people a place to reflect on the deaths.

Family and friends of the victims gathered with other members of the community at the Miller Community Center, near the house at 2112 E. Republican where Kyle Huff killed six people before taking his own life last March.

The procession and the artwork, called the Temple of Light, were part of an effort led by local artists and hundreds of volunteers, born out of the killings on March 25.

Eric Leuschner organized the procession to honor one of the victims, Jeremy Martin, 26.

"This is entirely personal. I miss Jeremy. I miss my friend. This is my tribute," Leuschner said.

Also killed in the shooting rampage were Jason Travers, 32; Justin Schwartz, 22; Christopher Williamson, 21; Suzanne Thorne, 15; and Melissa Moore, 14. Two others were wounded.

Jessica Ritland, who was in the house at the time of the slayings, attended Sunday's ceremony. She took part as a means of putting her grief to rest.

Six hardwood benches, one for each victim, were carried in the procession to the Temple of Light, which is shaped like a small pagoda. The benches were placed in a circle around the installation.

The only facet of the seven-sided temple that does not have a bench represents Huff. That section is covered in mirrors to remind visitors to reflect upon their own potential for violence, said Hendrik vanRensburg, who helped design and build the temple.

Seven blown-glass sculptures are encased in the tower and represent the spirits of all who died, including Huff.

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The temple is interactive, and anyone may leave messages and memorabilia in its alcoves. A separate "Grief Tablet Tree" allows visitors to write messages on 5- by 8-inch interlocking tablets.

The installation is open until Aug. 17, when it will be taken down and the sculptures offered to the families.

The rest of the structure and the tablet tree is scheduled to be taken to the 2006 Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert, where it will be ceremonially burned Sept. 3.

The Seattle Memorial Temple Project is part of an outreach effort by local artists, people from the rave scene, and friends and families of the victims. About $11,500 was donated for the memorial.

VanRensburg said he hopes the Temple of Light will help the community heal, not only from the Huff slayings but also from all of the recent violence that has shocked the Seattle area.

"I believe that our society has become polarized to such an extent that there is a serious disconnect between communities," vanRensburg said.

"I believe that if we bring people together and share our grief with each other, then we will tear down the walls and see each other with love, compassion and kindness."

Kathy F. Mahdoubi: 206-464-8292 or kmahdoubi@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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