By Zachariah Bryan
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
In everything but name, the case of Donnie Chin’s murder has gone cold.
On Aug. 21, standing before a room of over 50 people at the International District/Chinatown Community Center, Assistant Chief Marc Garth Green gave an update on the investigation into Chin’s murder.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have any good news,” he said.
As of last month, it has been three years since the murder of Chin, a beloved community leader and cofounder of the International District Emergency Center. On July 23, police believe he drove into the crossfire of a shootout between rival gangs, becoming an accidental victim.
Since that fateful day, little progress has been made toward solving the crime.
“The murder of Donnie is an increasingly hard case for us at Seattle Police Department (SPD), because there was not a lot of evidence at the scene,” Green said.
The only lead the police have are the shell casings leftover from the incident. Green said the police will test guns using the same bullets in other crimes, both locally and nationally, but so far the gun used in Chin’s murder has not turned up.
Police didn’t find anything new when they ran the casings through testing after an update to ballistics identification technology last year.
“That firearm has not been used again in any crime,” Green said.
Otherwise, there was no video of the shooting and no eyewitnesses have come forward. Green said he believes there were people who saw the event, but potential witnesses who were initially taken in for questioning were uncooperative. Since then, no one else has stepped forward with substantial knowledge.
So what now?
The case is still assigned to two detectives, and it will stay assigned to them throughout their careers. If they get any tips, they will act on them, Green said. SPD doesn’t believe in cold cases, he said, but he admitted that the detectives couldn’t do much until something new comes up.
“A lot of it is waiting,” Green said. “What we’re in dire need of is for someone who was physically there to come forward and say this is what I saw.”
In an attempt to find someone who can talk, SPD had Crime Stoppers translate wanted posters to Somali and Eritrean and place them in East African communities, such as the New Holly neighborhood.
The shooting took place outside of a hookah lounge frequented by people who are East African and police believe that at least one of the gangs involved in the shootout were East African.
The posters were put up last month, though no one has come forward as a result, Green said.
Mayor Jenny Durkan made a campaign promise that Chin’s murderer would be brought to justice. At her swearing-in ceremony at the Wing Luke Museum, she proclaimed “I will not forget Donnie Chin.”
Police Chief Carmen Best, who was sworn in earlier in the day, also previously stated her dedication to finding Chin’s murderer.
Neither Best or Durkan were in attendance at the Chinatown meeting.
After Green’s update, only one person asked a question related to the case.
After the meeting, Richard Mar, who worked with Chin at the International District Emergency Center, could only say he was “disappointed.” He had no comment because there was no update, he quipped.
Constance Chin-Magorty, who attended the meeting wearing a t-shirt adorned with a picture of her brother, declined an interview.
If anything new does come up, Green rest assured that Chin-Magorty would be the first to know.
“We work for the family,” he said.
If you have a tip in this case, call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.
Zachariah can be reached at email@example.com.