Rainier Beach neighbors remember shooting victim, add thoughts
The shooting death of Courtney D. Taylor, 31, in a parking lot in Rainier Beach on Wednesday was the most recent in a spate of violent incidents in the area.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Around noon on Thursday, a group of people gathered in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box on Rainier Avenue South to join hands and say a prayer for Courtney D. Taylor, who was fatally shot there the night before.
Taylor, 31, was a father of five and a certified electrician, his friends say. They concede he wasn't an angel and had a criminal history, according to court documents, but he was "a good father and a good man. He didn't deserve this," said Kellie Coleman, who said she was his girlfriend.
Coleman was among the dozen or so people, including pastors from the community and local business owners, who took time out to honor the dead man — and to pray for the living.
"We don't want to see another young person lose their life so aimlessly and so needlessly," said Pastor Joe Phillips of the Holly Park Community Church.
The shooting, which was the most recent in a spate of violent incidents in the area, called attention to the Rainier Beach neighborhood and underscored how a single incident can be seen differently by those in its orbit.
While most lamented the death, others who work and live in the area said violence is not an unexpected result when the bored and young — and armed — congregate. Meanwhile, much of the media attention was focused not on the shooting, but on the immediate aftermath that police described as hostility and aggression toward responding officers.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson said an officer who was flagged down immediately after the 8:24 p.m. shooting was met by a hostile crowd of up to 50. Some of the men in a crowd prevented the officer from reaching Taylor, he said, and were "posturing, ripping off their shirts and challenging officers to fight."
More officers had to be called in, he said, to stabilize the crowd before medics could attend to Taylor.
Precious moments were lost, said police.
When Fire Department medics finally reached the man, they "realized we had to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible," said spokesman Kyle Moore. "Every minute made a difference in that case."
Medics may typically take 10 to 15 minutes to stabilize a patient before transporting to a hospital, but they couldn't wait this time.
"We transported him as quickly as we could," Moore said.
It is typical in assault cases for medics to wait for police to secure a scene for their own protection, Moore said.
But Josie Monillas, who lives in a small house behind the fast-food restaurant and ran outside when she heard gunshots, said police misunderstood the crowd's frustration. Witnesses were angry because the shooter had just run off when the first officer arrived, but the officer seemed focused more on controlling the crowd than catching the gunman, she said.
"Nobody was trying to stop the cops from doing their job," Monillas said.
But Jeff Kappel, another police spokesman, said responding officers encountered "a very hostile and antagonistic crowd and a volatile scene."
In addition, added Jamieson, witnesses have refused to cooperate with police. "How likely is it that in a crowd that size no one saw anything?" he said.
Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the homicide tip line at 206-233-5000.
The shooting was the 14th homicide of the year in Seattle. A man was wounded in the legs in a shooting last Saturday in the same parking lot.
On Feb. 21, two men were fatally shot outside Maya's Mexican Restaurant just a few blocks away.
Pastor Phillips said the "recent eruption of violence has made this our ground zero" and he called for adults and leaders to step up support for families and the community.
But Pastor R.J. Rivers of the Greater Skyway Community Church said, "We don't have to take back the community because we never gave it up."
According to police and owners of nearby businesses, it's not uncommon to see people congregating in the parking lots of the Jack in the Box and a nearby Safeway.
Anthony Piner, co-owner of All in the Cut Barber Shop, said the area is within walking distance of three schools.
"It's not really a troubled area," he said, "but any time you get a bunch of teenagers hanging around with nothing to do, there's going to be trouble."
He said it could help if police step up their patrols, especially during the summer months.
"They could park their big van right here and call it a precinct. They could get out of their cars and walk."
Davie Hay, who runs the King Doughnut Teriyaki shop with her sister, said she's lived or worked in the neighborhood her whole life.
"People heard about the shooting and said, 'Be safe down there,' and I laughed. It's the same as it's been for the last 25 years. It's just that the media is deciding to report on this today."
Almarene Bell, 64, who just moved back to Rainier Beach after living for some time in San Diego, said she longs for the old days. "There is always something going on down here ... teenagers, drugs. I don't know ... home invasions. All that craziness. I wish it was like it used to be."
At the same time, the victim's brother, Tre Taylor, told KIRO-TV. "It's just another day in the 'hood. (For) everybody here, it's normal."
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.