Seattle police release photos and video in deadly attack
The Seattle Police Department on Wednesday released a surveillance video and still photos in connection with the recent homicide of Seattle hairdresser Danny Vega.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Commenting has been disabled because of the sensitive nature of this story.
Three days after hairdresser Danny Vega died from a beating near his Rainier Valley home and salon, Seattle police released video and photo images of three "people of interest" Wednesday and declared they are doing all they can to catch Vega's killers.
Wednesday night, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn appeared with top police officials at the Filipino Community of Seattle center for a public meeting.
"We grieve with you," McGinn said. "This is a horrifying and tragic loss, and it is the highest priority of our Police Department to solve this crime with your help."
The Police Department is "aggressively investigating this case," said Police Chief John Diaz. He asked for anyone with leads to call homicide detectives at 206-233-5000.
The video and still photos released Wednesday came from a surveillance camera near the scene of the crime, though police did not disclose the precise location.
It shows three men disposing of a jacket. Police are asking anyone who recognizes the men to contact the homicide unit at the 233-5000 number.
Wednesday night, Vega, 58, a gay man and an immigrant from the Philippines, was described by Mar Murillo, a Filipino-American leader, as "an icon in the community."
Even if Vega's assailants are found and punished, his sister, Valentina Vega, said, "It will never bring back my brother's life. My brother was such a precious person to us and to most of you — all of you. He was a very loving person and he didn't deserve what happened."
Valentina Vega said she didn't know if the assault on her brother was a hate crime, either because of his sexual orientation or race. However, that view was strongly expressed by several speakers at the Wednesday meeting.
But police said they don't know the motive for the assault. South Precinct Capt. Mike Nolan said there has been a rash of robberies the past two or three months "in pretty much all of our precincts" — often on people displaying personal electronic devices and returning home from a transit stop late in the day. Nolan said police were "closing in" on some robbery suspects.
Manuel Benevich, a salon owner who didn't know Vega, asked police, "Why are you characterizing this as a robbery and a brutal murder and not a hate crime?"
Diaz answered, "Clearly this is something we're going to be pursuing."
Others at the Filipino Community meeting urged members of different racial backgrounds and sexual orientations to work together and help police in the investigation.
"Yes, Danny was gay, yes, Danny was Filipino, and those are things to be proud of. But larger than that, Danny was a fellow human being," said Mac McGregor, a new member of the Police Department's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advisory council and co-chair of the city's LGBT Commission.
Larry Jackson, an African American who was raised by a Filipino American, said he has a gay son and so was "touched twice" by Vega's slaying. "I never ever want to see this community divided along the lines of us versus them," he said.
Vega died Sunday, 12 days after he was robbed and beaten by three young men in Rainier Valley. The assault happened Nov. 15 in the 4200 block of South Othello Street as Vega was taking one of his twice-daily walks.
Vega lost consciousness for about an hour after the attack, then awoke "with pain all over his face and chest," according to a police report.
However he managed to get home, and his housemates called 911.
Vega told his housemate James Saarenas that the three assailants jumped him, punched and kicked him before taking his cellphone and keys. He was in pain and disoriented when he was interviewed by police.
The King County Medical Examiner's Office has yet to release autopsy results.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this article, originally published Nov. 30, 2011, was clarified Dec. 1, 2011. A previous version of this story did not include Mac McGregor's role as co-chair of Seattle's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Commission.
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