Hundreds of people gathered Sunday night to honor the commitment and colorful life of International District leader Donnie Chin, who was fatally shot while patrolling the International District last week.
His sister, Connie Chin, said her brother loved the community, where their family, which founded the Sun May Company gift shop in Seattle more than 100 years ago, has deep roots.
“Dad taught us to be independent and think for ourselves. Mom taught us to think of others before ourselves,” she said. “We were raised in public service.”
Chin was the founder and director of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), a patrol group that offers emergency service assistance and monitors the International District for suspicious and dangerous activity in the International District. Chin started the group about 40 years ago in response to the slow police and fire response to incidents in the International District.
Jordan Wong, a library and Community Heritage Center coordinator at The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, said he was devastated when he heard that Chin was killed.
“This isn’t fair. This isn’t right. He deserved better,” Wong said. “He said the same thing about this neighborhood.”
IDEC co-founder and childhood friend Dean Wong described Chin’s dedication, courage and colorful language. When they first started patrolling the International District in the 1970s, the Seattle police and fire departments didn’t know what to make of the group.
“The police were wondering about the two young, idealistic radical Chinese Americans with the long-ass hair wanting to know what we were up to,” Wong remembered.
However, Chin won them over. Sunday night city firefighters and police officers were on hand among the mourners to honor him.
“He is our angel in a ghetto package,” Wong said.
Dicky Mar, longtime IDEC volunteer, said the group hopes to continue its work, but the board has yet to figure out how the organization will move forward without Chin.
Other speakers included International District community leaders “Uncle” Bob Santos and Maxine Chan, International Community Health Services director Teresita Bayatola, Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember John Okamoto, and former county executive Ron Sims.
Chin died Thursday after being shot while driving near Eighth Avenue and South Weller Street around 3 a.m. Thursday. Multiple people called 9-1-1, but Chin died after being taken to Harborview Medical Center.
Seattle police are investigating the shooting and ask people with information to call the SPD Homicide TIP line at (206) 233-5000.
Sunday night’s vigil was one of several planned community gatherings in the aftermath of Chin’s death. Hours after Chin died, a police and city leaders met with residents at a community meeting in the International District. On Friday night, community members marched in protest of the hookah lounges in the neighborhood that residents say have made the community less safe. This Tuesday, supporters will hold a potluck barbecue in front of the Sun May Company in Canton Alley at 6 p.m.