Capitol Hill massacre
|Capitol Hill massacre|
|Location||Seattle, Washington, United States|
|Date||March 25, 2006 (PST)|
|Mass murder, murder-suicide|
|Deaths||7 (including the perpetrator)|
|Perpetrator||Kyle Aaron Huff|
The Capitol Hill massacre was a mass murder committed by 28-year-old Kyle Aaron Huff in the southeast part of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. On the morning of Saturday, March 25, 2006, Huff entered a rave afterparty and opened fire, killing six and wounding two. He then killed himself as he was being confronted by police on the front porch of 2112 E. Republican Street.
Prior to the shooting
On the evening of Friday, March 24, 2006, a "Better Off Undead" event was held at the Capitol Hill Arts Center. CHAC states a maximum attendance of 350 throughout the evening. By nearly all accounts, CHAC itself had excellent security at the event (with over 20 security personnel on staff). At the event, Kyle Huff was invited to attend an after-party at a home about a mile away. Sometime between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, Huff left the event to attend the after-party.
A last-minute invitee, Huff did not personally know anyone at the after-party. He was quiet but spoke pleasantly with everyone as the after-party progressed. Nobody recalled him leaving, and there was no altercation or belligerent behavior exhibited by Huff.
Huff left the house and returned to his large truck, parked nearby. From the truck, he retrieved a 12-gauge pistol-grip Winchester 1300 Defender shotgun and a .40-caliber semiautomatic Ruger P944 handgun, and several bandoliers with over 300 rounds of ammunition for the guns. On his way back to the after-party, he spray-painted the word "NOW" on the sidewalk and on the steps of a neighboring home.
Upon arrival, he shot five victims who were outside talking: two on the steps, the others on the porch. He forced his way in through the front door of the house and shot two more people on the first floor. During the shooting, Huff allegedly stated "There's plenty for everyone" or something similar. On the second floor, he fired through the locked door of a bathroom where a couple had taken refuge inside the bathtub; neither person was hit. At least one other victim was injured during the shooting and taken to Harborview Medical Center, and at least one died at the hospital.
The shooting inside the house lasted for five minutes. A patrol officer nearby, Steve Leonard, heard the shots and headed to the scene, getting the address from multiple 911 dispatches. When he got to the house, he encountered an injured victim and immediately got between the victim and the house, as Huff was coming down the steps. Before the officer could complete his demand that Huff drop his weapon, Huff placed the gun in his mouth and shot himself through the head.
Following the shooting, police found that Huff's truck contained a Bushmaster Bushmaster XM15 E2S rifle, another handgun, several more boxes of ammunition, a baseball bat, and a machete. On Saturday afternoon the Seattle Police Department served a search warrant on the North Seattle apartment that Huff shared with his identical twin brother, Kane, where they found more guns and ammunition. During the search, Huff's brother returned home, unaware of what had happened. He was taken into custody, questioned, then later released.
Many who attended the Capitol Hill Arts Center event learned of the shooting the next morning via local "Rave" websites, some of which included first hand accounts from survivors.
On March 28, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, led by the Rev. Sanford Brown and other local clergy, held an interfaith prayer service at the site of the mass murder. The service was attended by over 500 people.
- Melissa Moore, 14
- Suzanne Thorne, 15
- Justin "Sushi" Schwartz, 22
- Christopher "Deacon" Williamson, 21
- Jeremy Martin, 26
- Jason Travers, 32
- Two unidentified teenagers
Kyle Aaron Huff (September 22, 1977 – March 25, 2006) was identified as the shooter in the morning massacre. His motive remains unknown. Huff claimed to have attended The Art Institute of Seattle and North Seattle Community College, although neither institution has records of him attending.
He had previously been arrested in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, for destroying a public arts project and was charged with a felony. (He shot up a statue of a moose that was part of an installation called "Moose on the Loose.") He was described by residents there as a well-liked person with a minor history of delinquency. He moved to Seattle with his twin brother about five years before the shooting. He had little contact with police in Seattle, but was involved in a brawl at the Lobo Saloon in 2004.
The weapons used were purchased legally at sporting goods stores in Kalispell, Montana. They were seized by the police in Whitefish after he pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor mischief charge in the moose incident. They were returned after he paid restitution and a fine. The original felony charge for destroying the art would have prohibited him from legally owning firearms.
Huff was not well known in Seattle's rave scene. Very few people in the scene knew him or interacted with him. On February 1, 2006, someone with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org asked on an internet message board run by local raver Groovinkim when the next rave was, because he'd never been to one.
A possible window into the killer's motives appeared nearly a month after the event. An apartment manager of a complex about a mile from Huff's residence called police about a possible bomb he found while inspecting dumpsters, although that bomb turned out to be just modeling clay and wires. In the investigation afterwards, police found a handwritten note in the dumpster apparently written by Huff. On June 6, the police released the letter, not yet authenticated, to the media. A week later, the Washington State Patrol's State Crime Lab concluded that it was "highly probable" that the letter was authentic. Arguments in favor of authenticity included the fact that the letter was written on stationery from the apartment complex where the Huff brothers lived and matched several known samples of the killer's writing, according to crime lab experts. The Stranger earlier claimed that the handwriting on the letter appears the same as samples from a job application of Huff's that they had obtained.
The letter, dated two days before the killings, was extremely specific in expressing the writer's anger at young ravers for their provocative lifestyle, particularly their sexual freedom, and said that the things they did and said were too disturbing for the writer to live with. It ended with the quote "Now, kids, Now", reminiscent of the letters "NOW" that Huff spray painted during the massacre.
In July 2006, an investigative panel released its findings to the public. In attempting to explain Huff's motivations, the panel suggested that a Nirvana song called "I Want to Know Now", with a chorus refrain of "now, now, now, now" influenced Huff's spray painted message.
The Capitol Hill massacre was the worst mass killing in Seattle since the 1983 Wah Mee massacre in which 13 died. While Seattle and the Pacific Northwest in the past half-century have had numerous serial killers—most notoriously Ted Bundy, "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgway and Robert Lee Yates—mass murder is not as common, although the area has had several of them.
In the wake of the killings, the Seattle Times, invoking the drugs and alcohol the victims apparently enjoyed that night, immediately called for tighter regulation of late-night activities of the underaged; in particular, for the city's all-ages dance rules to be "thoroughly re-examined and re-tooled." This view was firmly opposed by alternative weekly The Stranger. Josh Feit and Stranger editor-in-chief Dan Savage wrote in response to the Times editorial:
Far from endangering kids, teen dances keep kids safe. If the young people hadn't been at a crowded public dance overseen by extensive security (19 guards were at CHAC on Saturday night) where no one got hurt, the kids would likely have been out at unchaperoned and completely unregulated house parties—not after the dance, but all night. And, without a fat calendar of all-ages events, that's where they would be every weekend. Because without organized all-ages dances and live-music events, house parties and parking lots are all kids have.
The views predominating among the city's politicians and other leaders turned out to be closer to those of The Stranger than the Times. As mayor Greg Nickels put it, "This is not about music, this is not about a party. This was about a guy who decided he was going to kill people and he had the firepower to do it." Several city council members spoke up against the "quick fix" mentality inherent in the Times editorial; council member Peter Steinbrueck added he was "really incredulous over young teenaged girls going out all night unsupervised and mixing with much older people," but didn't see that as an issue over the nature of the place where they had socialized. Sandra Williamson, mother of shooting victim Christopher "Deacon" Williamson, announced, "I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that those raves continue… That is what I am going to do for Chris." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer added that "even… former City Attorney Mark Sidran", whom they described as "Seattle's best-known defender of underage dance restrictions," said that "Some tragedies defy any sort of rational response in terms of regulation because they're completely irrational events you can't really predict or prevent." 
As it happens, the killings occurred only days before Mayor Nickels was to announce the city's support for the non-profit VERA project (which puts on all-ages shows) moving into a new location at Seattle Center, so that at the time of the killings all-ages events were more than routinely on the minds of city leaders, and in a more than typically positive light. Four years earlier, Seattle repealed a rather extreme and limiting Teen Dance Ordinance (TDO), replacing it with the much more flexible All-ages Dance Ordinance (AADO). In the course of the exchanges in the wake of the murders, musician and activist Ben Shroeter wrote that the AADO made possible legitimate, well-run dances, instead of the sometimes very drug-ridden underground events that had illegally occurred in the TDO era. "The dangerous 'underground' rave has virtually disappeared in the Seattle area," wrote Shroeter. "I’d rather have my daughter at CHAC or VERA Project than in the beckoning custody of unregulated and lecherous slimeballs."
- Angela Galloway and D. Parvaz, No rave crackdown coming, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 30, 2006. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
- Josh Feit and Dan Savage, Raving Mad, The Stranger, Mar 30 – Apr 5, 2006. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
- On the arsenal used: Tracy Johnson and Angela Galloway, Police seized Huff's guns once, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 28, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
- Tom Francis, “He didn’t show a lot of emotion.” on SLOG, The Stranger's blog, March 25, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
- Sam Skolnik, Capitol Hill massacre: A timeline of events, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 26, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
- Michelle Nicolosi, Ravers flock to Web for news: Many fear their friends are among shooting victims, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 24, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- KING-TV News, March 28, 2006, "Killer: 'plenty for everyone'"
- Benjamin J. Romano, Melissa Moore, 14, remembered as loving and generous, Seattle Times, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Debera Carleton Harrell, Suzanne Thorne, 15: A gregarious teen who liked music, partying, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Brad Wong, Justin Schwartz, 22: Ravers remember his 'uplifting spirit', Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 26, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- David Postman and Warren Cornwall, Justin Schwartz remembered: "He was just a warm, energetic, fun-loving person", Seattle Times, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Sushi on MySpace
- David Postman, Christopher Williamson remembered as a budding DJ, Seattle Times, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Deacon808 on LiveJournal.
- Deacon808 on MySpace.
- Christine Willmsen, Jack Broom and Sonia Krishnan, Jeremy Martin known for his curiosity, hard work, Seattle Times, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Emily Heffter and Christine Willmsen, Jason Travers remembered as gentle man, good listener, Seattle Times, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Phuong Le, Angela Galloway, and Mike Lewis, Killer was a 'gentle giant,' 'quick to anger, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Jennifer Sullivan and Mike Carter, Two of Capitol Hill killer's victims were teenage girls, Seattle Times, March 28, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- kim's seattle raves page. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Claudia Rowe, Letter rages at ravers' lifestyle, Seattle P-I, June 7, 2006.
- AP, Crime lab says it is "highly probable" that Huff wrote note, Seattle Times, June 14, 2006.
- Thomas Francis, Parting Shot, The Stranger, Jun 1 – 7, 2006
- Jennifer Sullivan and Hal Bernton, Mass killer Huff stalked rave community, panel reports, The Seattle Times, July 17, 2006
- Seattle Times staff, Capitol Hill rampage worst since Wah Mee Massacre, Seattle Times, March 26, 2006. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
- Post-Intelligencer staff, Suspected or convicted serial killers in Washington, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Originally published February 20, 2003, updated several times. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
- Soul-searching after Capitol Hill tragedy, Seattle Times editorial, March 26, 2006. Retrieved June 13, 2006.
- Protect teens with new dance rules, Seattle Times editorial, March 29, 2006. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
- Megan Seling, Underage, The Stranger, Mar 30 – Apr 5, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Council Passes Dance Ordinance, August 12, 2002, on the Seattle Mayor's site. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Letter from Ben Shroeter, included in Josh Feit, The Boy Who Cried Wolf?, on Slog, The Stranger's blog. Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- Jeremy Martin memorial
- Maureen O'Hagan and Christine Willmsen, House that once stood for fun now a darker blue, Seattle Times, April 10, 2006. A follow-up article three weeks afterwards about the people who lived in the house (five out of six survived).
- Sara Jean Green, 911 calls from in house, outside reflected horror of killing spree, Seattle Times, March 31, 2006. Includes links to audio of the 911 calls.
- James Alan Fox, Panel Report on the March 25, 2006 Capitol Hill Shooting. July 17, 2006.