11:25 AM: A deadly shooting on Sunday in Columbia City has touched the lives of hundreds here because of the victim. She was a 14-year-old freshman at Chief Sealth International High School. We just confirmed with Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer that grief counselors are available today for students, many of whom learned about this via social media starting late last night (thanks to the Sealth parents who let us know about this), and that she plans to send e-mail to Sealth families today. Meantime, Seattle Police say this morning that the suspect they are seeking, 24-year-old Si Phu, is a relative of the victim. Here is the photo they have released publicly:
The circumstances of the shooting have not been disclosed; so far, police have only said that they got a call just after 3 pm Sunday about a shooting in the 3500 block of S. Brandon in Columbia City, and that the victim died at the scene. Later in the day, SPD circulated the photo shown above, and this morning, they say Phu is still being sought. If you have any information about his whereabouts, please call 911. We will update this report with anything additional that we find out today.
12:04 PM: Here’s the letter sent to Sealth families by principal Fraser-Hammer:
Dear Sealth Families,
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share the tragic news that one of our students was the victim of a fatal shooting yesterday in Columbia City. Seattle Police are investigating, and we are in communication with her family.
As a community, I know we will come together to not only support our student’s family members, but work to ensure our larger community is a safe place for us to live, learn and work.
We have counselors at school today and will continue to have counselors and mental health support available in the days ahead for students, staff and families, as needed. When someone dies, particularly in an act of violence, it is normal for children and teens to have different kinds of feelings and reactions. Parents and guardians have important roles in helping students understand about death.
We understand that each culture has its own way of dealing with death, and we encourage children to talk with their families about their ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Additionally, talking about the incident can be a healthy way for families to process their feelings and reactions to an event of this nature.
Here are some suggestions for how to help students cope:
• Maintain a normal routine.
• Stick to facts. Answer questions factually.
• Remain calm and reassuring. Students take their cues from their parents and adults.
• Be a good listener and observer. Pay attention to changes in behavior.
• Notice when children have questions and want to talk.
• Be especially loving and supportive; children and teens need you even more at this time.
• Take care of yourself. You are better able to help your students if you are coping well. If you are anxious or upset, children are more likely to be so as well.
We recognize that even if your student may not have known or been close to this family, he/she may still feel a strong reaction. We also realize this may be your student’s first experience with death or it may trigger feelings about other deaths your child may have experienced.
A candlelight vigil is planned and details will be shared as information becomes available. This is an opportunity for students and families to acknowledge their grief and express their feelings about a sudden loss for which they have no control over.
If you have any questions, please let me know. We will keep you updated on how we as a community can move forward, and how we can support the family.