Leschi shooting shocks friends of victim, 18
A shooting in the Leschi neighborhood Wednesday evening left Aaron Sullivan, 18, dead and his many friends shocked.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Friends and family of Aaron Sullivan, who was fatally shot Wednesday evening in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood, are mourning the loss of a popular young man they said could fit in nearly anywhere.
Jim Valiere, Sullivan's godfather, remembers the 18-year-old for his entrepreneurial and compassionate spirit. Valiere said Sullivan once made money mowing lawns in his neighborhood, which he used to buy food for the homeless.
"Aaron Sullivan had lots of great qualities," Valiere said in an e-mail. "He had a heart for people on the margins."
An argument between Sullivan and another man, 19, escalated into gunfire on 32nd Avenue South and South Dearborn Street at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Seattle police said. Sullivan was shot in the head while his car was stopped near the home of the suspect, who fired through the car's back window, according to police.
The suspect then ran back toward his home, prompting an hours-long standoff before police realized he had left the area. The suspect was arrested without incident early Thursday morning at a West Seattle home.
Police did not release a motive for the shooting.
Police on Thursday did not identify Sullivan as the victim, but many friends across the city had heard of his killing and confirmed his death.
Curran Lyons, who will be a senior at O'Dea High School, grew up with Sullivan in the Capitol Hill area. He said news of Sullivan's death comes as a shock since Sullivan was generally popular, and wasn't known to be violent.
"I'm in disbelief," he said. "He's a caring person; it shouldn't have been him."
Sullivan's father died of multiple sclerosis in 2005, which took an emotional toll on the young man, Valiere said.
Lyons said he and Sullivan looked to each other for support through difficult periods in their lives, relying on each other since childhood.
"I wouldn't be the same today if he wasn't part of my life," Lyons said.
"The biggest tragedy here is that Aaron didn't have an opportunity to fully live in his goodness and greatness," said Valiere, athletic director at Garfield High School. People who knew Sullivan said they don't believe the killing was gang-related, and emphasize that Sullivan was not involved in any gang activity.
"He was a really chill, relaxed-type of dude," said friend Merissa Hale. "He was really into art, graffiti and things like that," she said.
Sullivan transferred between several Seattle schools, including American Indian Heritage Middle College and NOVA Alternative High School, Hale said.
Hale said she remembers Sullivan as the type of person who could change the atmosphere of a room with his genial personality.
Valiere said Sullivan had an extended family of "some of the most loving people on the face of the Earth," and that although none were related to him biologically, "the love that bound them could not have been any stronger if they were."
Lyons expressed frustration that his friend died because of gun violence, something he feels has taken too many young lives in the city.
"Seattle has to learn as a community that this needs to stop," he said, "It's ridiculous."
Phillip Lucas: 206-515-5632 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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