Updated (8/2/2017 at 4:12 p.m.):
Updated (7/20/2016 at 4:14 p.m.):
The following is a statement from the family of Donnie Chin, regarding the one-year anniversary of his passing.
Updated (7/07/2016 at 4:06 p.m.):
Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and International District Emergency Center (IDEC) were joined by 100 Chinatown-International District (CID) community members and SPD Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, as well as Chin’s family on June 23 at a public meeting in the Nagomi Tea House.
Updated (7/01/2016 at 4:02 p.m.):
On Friday, July 1, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued the “Mayor’s Chinatown/International District Public Safety Action Plan” six months after he first convened the Chinatown-International District Public Safety Task Force and almost one year after the murder of community activist Donnie Chin. The community’s reaction to the murder of Chin, who spent his life protecting the neighborhood and trying to keep the community safe, led to renewed calls for the city to recognize the International District’s longstanding public safety concerns.
Updated (5/12/2016 at 1:12 p.m.):
A letter to the editor from Karen Yoshitomi, executive director of the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington, about how the mayor’s speech at the park renaming ceremony (Donnie Chin International Children’s Park) failed to mention the significance behind the new name and Donnie Chin’s legacy.
Updated (5/12/2016 at 1:12 p.m.):
This is an update regarding the postponed March 31, 2016 meeting on the investigation of Donnie Chin’s murder.
Updated (3/29/2016 at 1:02 p.m.):
This is a letter from the family of Donnie Chin about the renaming of the International Children’s Park to the Donnie Chin International Children’s Park.
Updated (3/17/2016 at 5:02 p.m.):
Updated (3/1/2016 at 12:02 p.m.):
Updated (1/6/2016 at 1:02 p.m.):
Updated (12/2/2015 at 5:50 p.m.):
Four months after Donnie Chin, founder and director of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), was killed during a shootout between rival gangs, Washington State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos organized a public meeting at the Nagomi Teahouse so police could update the community on the progress of the murder investigation—something she felt they hadn’t been doing enough.
On Friday, November 6, at the 14th Annual Seattle Police Awards Banquet, the late Donnie Chin was recognized with the Community Member of the Year award.
Updated (11/11/2015 at 4:45 p.m.):
Announcement: November 24 public safety meeting will update community on Donnie Chin murder investigation, future of IDEC
State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and the International District Emergency Center (IDEC) will be hosting a community meeting on public safety in the Chinatown International District on Tuesday, November 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Nagomi Teahouse (519 6th Ave S #200, Seattle, WA 98104). The meeting will also update the community on the latest information about the Donnie Chin murder investigation and the future plans for IDEC.
Updated (10/16/2015 at 3:09 p.m.):
The Donnie Chin Children’s Park Naming Coordinating Committee will be hold a public meeting to gather the community’s wishes regarding the Superintendent’s alternatives to naming the park after Donnie Chin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27 at the IDEA Space conference room, which is on the lower floor of the Bush Asia Center, next to Hing Hay Park.
Announcement: Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent offers alternatives to naming children’s park after Donnie Chin
Updated (10/6/2015 at 3:59 p.m.):
More than two months after the murder of International District Emergency Services director Donnie Chin, Seattle Police have yet to make an arrest. Chin was murdered on July 23 when he came into the crossfire of two separate groups of shooters, according to the SPD.
While both groups have been identified by detectives, an arrest cannot be made without someone from the two groups cooperating with police, said SPD Assistant Chief Bob Merner at a public safety briefing in the ID on September 23.
Updated (8/28/2015 at 1:38 p.m.):
The following is a letter from community leader “Uncle” Bob Santos, addressed to the late Donnie Chin:
Updated (8/19/2015 at 5:32 p.m.):
Saturday afternoon, August 15, at the Chong Wa Benevolent Association Playfield, more than 500 people gathered to honor International District Emergency Center (IDEC) founder and executive director Donnie Chin, who was murdered on July 23 only blocks away.
A speech given by International District Emergency Services (IDEC) volunteer Angela Lee during the August 15 memorial of Donnie Chin’s life and legacy at Chong Wa playground:
Updated (8/19/2015 at 3:12 p.m.):
API activist Frank Irigon calls for more attention to the broader crime problem affecting the International District and for creating a dialogue with the East African community and hookah bar owners.
Activist Gary Iwamoto reflects on Denise Louie, an API activist from Seattle who was murdered 38 years ago, on Donnie Chin, and on the community’s history of coping with tragedy.
Updated (8/14/2015 at 10:14 a.m.):
SPD detectives said Thursday that they identified two men who were present during the shooting of Donnie Chin. While one of the men is in custody for an unrelated charge, the police do not have probable cause to make an arrest but are working with prosecutors. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said it is too early to determine what role they played, if any, in Chin’s murder.
In the meantime, Black and East African communities are rallying against the city-wide targeting of hookah bars. API leaders are also trying to initiate a dialogue.
Updated (8/12/2015 at 2:19 p.m.):
The following is the republication of a cover story written by the late Donnie Chin that ran in the December 15, 1982 issue of the International Examiner:
The following is a profile of Donnie Chin published in the 2009 book Seattle’s International District—The Making of a Pan-Asian American Community by author Doug Chin:
Updated (8/7/2015 at 1:57 p.m.):
The International District Emergency Center is sponsoring an event to honor Donnie Chin’s life and legacy on August 15 at 2:00 p.m. at the Chong Wa Benevolent Association Playfield, 8th Avenue S and Weller Street, Seattle, WA 98104.
A column by Dean Wong reflecting on childhood memories of Donnie Chin in the International District neighborhood.
And here is a column from Debbie Louie, one of the many neighborhood kids who were touched by Donnie Chin’s life.
Here is an updated version of the report on Donnie Chin’s murder that was published in the August 5 print edition of the International Examiner featuring new quotes from community members.
By IE Staff
Donnie Chin, director of International District Emergency Center (IDEC), was killed by gunfire early Thursday morning, July 23, while in his car at 8th Avenue and South Lane Street in the International District.
When word that Chin had been shot first began to circulate, it was still unclear for many whether he had survived the shooting. Members of Seattle’s API community communicated via telephone, text message, and email in preparation for the worst. Once confirmation of Chin’s death was made, emotions of grief were joined by frustration at the lack of details surrounding his death and anger directed toward a lack of police presence in the neighborhood.
At 5:00 p.m. that afternoon, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim moderated a community information meeting headed by the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Fire Department, for the first time that day offering confirmed details of the shooting. The meeting was held in both English and Chinese.
SPD Assistant Chief Bob Merner is in charge of the investigation. At the meeting, he outlined the following series of events for the community:
- At about 2:50 a.m. on July 23, 911 received multiple calls reporting the sound of gunshots in the area of 8th Avenue and Lane Street and 7th Avenue and Lane Street.
- Multiple units from the West Precinct were dispatched and arrived at the scene, where they found Chin suffering from gunshot wounds.
- Officers, with the assistance of a civilian passerby, conducted emergency medical care, and Chin was put in an ambulance.
- Chin was then transferred to Harborview Medical Center, where shortly after he succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead.
- The crime scene was processed by the homicide unit. They found multiple vehicles and forensic evidence. Forensic testing has been expedited for this case, but it’s still early. The SPD also conducted interviews of people in the area early this morning. Some video evidence has since been recovered from the area, and police are searching to see if useful images can be found. Assistant Chief Merner requested that any private photos or videos be submitted to the homicide unit. Alternatively, community members can call the tip line at 800-222-TIPS or 206-233-5000. The floor was then opened up for questions.
Someone in the audience asked to hear comments from the fire department. SFD Deputy Chief Bryan Hastings said, “Donnie was a great man,” and that everyone in the Fire Department would deeply miss him.
SFD Lieutenant Don Peterson said: “All of us … who have had the honor of serving this community, we loved Donnie Chin as much as you. … It’s impossible to say how many times or how many of us, but we do know that he saved our lives.”
The firefighters present said they would always remember and miss him, which received applause from those in attendance at the meeting.
Local activist Doug Chin of OCA—Greater Seattle asked how many times Donnie Chin was shot and if there were any leads. SPD said that they would never give out the number of shots to protect the integrity of the investigation, and that they were following all leads that arose and would keep the community updated on what happens.
Seattle food anthropologist Max Chan spoke next. She said that things haven’t changed much since the Wah Mee massacre. Chan said that back then, after the murder of 13 people in the Wah Mee gambling club in the International District in 1983, the police increased patrols for a while, and there were talks with the community, but there were no lasting policy changes. Chan said that things once again will just be more secure for seven-to-10 days before an insufficient police presence returns.
“What are the lasting policies that are going to come out of that?” Chan said. She expressed anger that “Donnie had to die” in order for this community meeting about public safety to happen and be taken seriously by the SPD.
Members of the community also called for institutional changes in the SPD and expressed frustration that the city didn’t better fund or support IDEC.
Rep. Tomiko-Santos said of Donnie’s death: “We lost our liaison, a critical link to city services. … We need to know that you’re going to support the IDEC.” She expressed a need to continue this dialogue, and for the SPD to keep the community regularly updated about what they find out.
At a meeting in the International District on Tuesday, July 28, Seattle Police Department officials updated API community leaders. Merner said the SPD gathered a significant amount of forensic evidence from the crime scene, which is currently being processed. Merner said the police are confident that this evidence, coupled with additional assistance in the form of tips from the public, will eventually lead to the identification and apprehension of those responsible for Chin’s murder.
Merner also said that SPD has substantially increased the presence of officers in the International District, adding that this will continue indefinitely.
That same day, SPD detectives put a call out to the public for help in finding a witness who they say picked up some shell casings and brought them to officers. The man was described as a 6-food-tall African-American with a thin build. At the time, he was wearing a white brimmed hat, glasses and a green argyle shirt. If you know this person, call SPD Homicide Investigators at (206) 684-5550.
Several community events have happened in the aftermath of Chin’s death, including two nonviolent rallies against hookah bars led by Bob Santos, a candlelight vigil in memory of Donnie Chin on July 26, and a community BBQ in honor of Chin on July 28.
Weeks following Chin’s murder, the investigation is still underway and those responsible have yet to be caught. Members of the community continue to honor Chin.
“Donnie was the eyes and ears of our neighborhood 24/7 but that kind of committment can never be equaled,” said community leader Bob Santos. “We should all do our part in making sure our elderly residents are cared for, our kids grow in a safe enviroment, and the non-profit agency staff step up their support of the International District Chinatown neighborhood residents. As for the Seattle Police force that would be unable to place boots on the ground 24/7, each officer on their way to and from duty should make at least pass through the International District to and from their precincts. Foot patrol and Bike patrol officers should stop and meet with non-profit agency staff and business owners to offer contact information.”
Community activist Elaine Ikoma Ko also called the creation of a police station in the International District.
“Donnie was like the younger brother I never had. I, like so many, am deeply grieved,” Ko said. “The loss is too enormous for words. The community should honor his life by getting what he always wanted: a police station in C/ID with bilingual officers. Never should an entire community rely on one man to protect. Those of us who knew him well know that he wouldn’t want all the attention. He was all about action.”
In a statement to the community, International District Emergency Center board president Richard Mar asked that offers of contributions to IDEC be held for the moment, until the nonprofit is able to meet as a board and assess the best course of action.
IDEC boardmember Trang Tu said: “Especially in the immediate aftermath, there is a critical need to support Donnie’s family as well as IDEC members, especially patrol volunteers, as they mourn this huge loss. There also needs to be continued pressure to bring the killer(s) to justice, and over the long term, a need to continue working to ensure safety and security in the neighborhood.”
Updated (8/5/2015 at 4:37 p.m.):
Days after a second nonviolent protest against hookah bars led by “Uncle” Bob Santos, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a joint effort with King County to target hookah bars in the city for closure.
Updated (8/2/2015 at 4:43 p.m.):
Richard Mar, board chair of the International District Emergency Center, released a statement asking that offers of contributions to IDEC be held for the moment, until they are able to meet as a board and assess the best course of action for the organization and the community.
Updated (7/30/2015 at 1:07 p.m.):
At a meeting in the International District on Tuesday, July 28, Seattle Police Department officials updated API community leaders on the investigation into the murder of of International District Emergency Center (IDEC) director Donnie Chin.
Assistant Chief Robert Merner said the SPD gathered a significant amount of forensic evidence from the crime scene, which is currently being processed. Merner said the police are confident that this evidence, coupled with additional assistance in the form of tips from the public, will eventually lead to the identification and apprehension of those responsible for Chin’s murder.
Updated (7/29/2015 at 3:20 p.m.):
Community leader Bob Santos will be leading a second nonviolent rally against hookah bars on Friday, July 31 at 10:30 p.m. starting at the Bush Garden parking lot.
A letter to the editor about Donnie Chin from Elaine Ko:
To read a statement from the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, click here.
Updated (7/27/2015 at 5:57 p.m.):
See photos from the July 24 nonviolent rally against hookah bars organized by community leader “Uncle” Bob Santos:
Updated (7/27/2015 at 1:30 p.m.):
Read the speech made by community activist Dean Wong about his best friend, Donnie Chin, at Sunday night’s, July 26, candlelight vigil:
Updated (7/25/2015 at 10:47 a.m.):
A second meeting between SPD and the community was held Friday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. SPD said the community response to the call for photos, videos, and tips that may help the investigation has been “phenomenal.”
Read the IE’s report on the July 24 meeting here:
To read a statement by OCA-Greater Seattle on Donnie Chin’s murder, click here. OCA calls for the renaming of the International Children’s Park to the “Donnie Chin Children’s Park,” and to establish a memorial or salute to Chin at the park.
Updated (7/24/2015 at 3:10 p.m.):
Bettie Luke of Chinese American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A.) remembers the late Donnie Chin in an open letter:
Updated (7/24/2015 at 2:17 p.m.):
Several community events have been scheduled in the aftermath of Chin’s death:
A Nonviolent Rally Against Hookah Bars
Friday, July 24. Meet up at 10:30 p.m. March begins at 11:00 p.m.
Starts at Bush Garden Parking Lot and heads toward 8th Avenue S and S Lane Street
‘Uncle’ Bob Santos will be leading a rally against having hookah bars in the International District neighborhood. SPD will be present to protect residents and protesters. For more details, call 206 679-8928.
Candlelight Vigil in Memory of Donnie Chin
Sunday, July 26 from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
A candlelight vigil will honor Donnie Chin, who protected the International District’s residents for almost 50 years. Gathering will begin at 8:00 p.m. Speeches and vigil will start at 9:00 p.m. and complete around 10:00 p.m. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are accepting food donations from restaurants for community members after the vigil. Contact email@example.com to donate.
Thank You Donnie Chin: A Community BBQ
Tuesday, July 28 at 6:00 p.m.
Sun May, 5 Canton Alley, Seattle, WA 98104
To honor the legacy of Donnie Chin, a community barbecue will be hosted in Canton Alley in front of Sun May. This is a potluck style event. Attendees may bring food if able. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/723139637832582/.
For details on the community meeting on the details of Donnie Chin’s murder see the following story:
Multiple sources have confirmed with the International Examiner that Donnie Chin, director of International District Emergency Center (IDEC), was shot and killed while in his car Thursday morning at 8th Avenue and South Lane Street in the International District.
A report by KOMO News earlier this morning described a man, who is now identified as Chin, was shot multiple times before being rushed to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. The suspect is still being sought.
The International Examiner later learned that Chin died of his injuries.
Maria Guerrero of KIRO7 tweeted a photo of the car and crime scene:
Shooting scene at 8th & Weller in International District. Red car shot w/bullet holes. Vic shot. Suspect on loose. pic.twitter.com/Y0UTxbbbG2
— Maria Guerrero (@MariaKIRO7) July 23, 2015
Seattle Police Deputy Chief Carmen Best told The Seattle Times that there will be a community meeting at Legacy Hall, 409 Maynard Ave S., at 5:00 p.m. tonight to talk about the incident.
IDEC is a volunteer based emergency services organization. IDEC routinely patrols and monitors the International District for suspicious and dangerous activity, and directly provides or facilitates emergency services to the residents, visitors, workers, businesses and those who patronize the area. IDEC provides a rapid response, 24 hours a day, to emergency situations by trained emergency services officers.
This story will be updated as it develops.