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Sunday, March 26, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Victim known for his curiosity, hard work

Seattle Times staff reporters

What relatives and friends of Jeremy Martin know is that the 26-year-old was a talented musician, a successful wine salesman and an enterprising young man known for his creativity, curiosity and sense of humor.

What they can't fathom is why someone would shoot him and several other young people at a small rental house on Capitol Hill.

"He wanted to learn more than what was in front of his face or in his own backyard," said his stepmother, Dena Martin of Mount Vernon. "He's forthright and speaks his mind, but he's not a meddler."

As authorities Saturday withheld names of the victims of the early-morning shooting, relatives of Martin and a second victim, Christopher Williamson, 21, confirmed that they were among the dead.

"We don't know what happened — just that he attended a rave and an after-party ... and the gunman was present at the party and returned with a gun," Dena Martin said.

Jeremy Martin, born and raised in Mount Vernon, recently had been living in the house on East Republican Street where the shooting occurred.

After graduating from Mount Vernon High School with honors, he attended a couple of classes at Skagit Valley College and then worked at a food cooperative in Mount Vernon, his stepmother said. Later, he and at least five of his friends from the Mount Vernon area moved to Seattle and lived together at the East Republican Street house.

Dena Martin, 45, was upset that her husband, Bob Martin, the young man's father, had not been contacted by Seattle police or the King County Medical Examiner's Office. A family member notified them of Martin's death and Harborview Medical Center confirmed it.

She described her stepson as having a longstanding interest in music, playing the tuba and electric guitar in high school. After he moved to Seattle, he worked for an iron manufacturer making furniture. He also joined several heavy-metal bands, playing the guitar, she said.

He also learned to make his own beer. "He likes learning things — always reading and watching documentaries and going to film festivals," she said.

For several years, he worked at Madison Market, a Capitol Hill food cooperative.

The mood at the market was somber Saturday afternoon as news of Martin's death sank in. Some workers were too shaken to speak. Others offered their thoughts on a young man known for his charisma and boundless energy.

Jeff Milano, who worked with Martin for two years at the co-op, called him "one of those people with a magnetic personality."

Milano said Martin was a "fun, good-natured guy," with a wide range of interests, from fine food and wine to electronic music and partying.

Music was one of Martin's biggest passions, said Aaron Hoyle, 25, of Maple Valley, who met him at a party a few years ago. Hoyle said Martin was a DJ who spun mainly psychedelic trance, a genre of music composed of fast, continuous electronic beats.

"He'd do fun stuff like set up his sound system in public and play music," Hoyle said. "He was just really into it."

"He had a great sense of humor," said John McWilliams, a friend and music promoter. "He partied a lot and was a hard worker."

Martin also helped operate Chickenhed, a group that held countercultural music and art parties.

Martin was a sales representative for New Zealand Pure Ltd., a wine wholesaler, regularly calling on about 50 retail customers, including restaurants and wine shops throughout the city, in his Volkswagen bus.

"He was a wonderful person. He always brightened my day," said Jennifer Sheath, who co-owns the wine company with her husband, Carl.

Sheath met Martin about four years ago when he was the wine buyer for Madison Market.

"Early last year, he approached us for a job; he was interested in getting more into wine. When I heard that, I immediately wanted to make room for him in our company. He was such a positive person, very funny and very knowledgeable about wine."

Sheath said Martin enjoyed cooking, and sometimes worked as a professional clown.

"His favorite, passionate thing in his life was going to the Burning Man festival," an annual arts celebration held in the Nevada desert.

Christopher Williamson was killed in the front room of the Capitol Hill house, according to his mother, Sandra Williamson. She said she was informed of her son's death by the King County Medical Examiner's office Saturday night after a day of worrying.

She said she was upset by the way some in the media were portraying those at the party.

"Christopher was a clean-cut kid, just a kid. A very caring person," she said, noting that he lived at home. "He was a very affectionate, soft-mannered person. My phone hasn't stopped ringing with people saying 'I loved him so much. I loved him so much.' "

She said her son, a budding rave disk jockey, started having problems with drugs when he first got into the music scene. But he went through rehabilitation last year and was turning his life around. She said he had told friends that Friday's rave was going to be his last.

"He told all his friends, 'No more,' " she said. "He promised to stay away from that whole thing because of the drugs."

He was a deacon at his church, which inspired his DJ name, Deacon808.

"The thing is, why? Why out of all of them was it Chris?" she said.

"It has just been him and me in this big house. I'm going to sell it now."

Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or cwillmsen@seattletimes.com

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