On March 25, 2006, Kyle Huff opens fire at a rave afterparty held at 2112 E Republican Street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Six people are killed and two are wounded. Police officer Steve Leonard, who is patrolling nearby, arrives at the scene within minutes, as Huff is leaving the house. Just as the officer commands the killer to drop his weapon, Huff kills himself. This is the largest mass killing in Seattle since the Wah Mee Massacre in 1983.
Raves are all-night dance events featuring electronic dance music that is usually high-energy and upbeat. On the night of March 24, a zombie-themed rave called “Better Off Undead” was held at the Capitol Hill Arts Center, with hundreds in attendance wearing face paint and fake blood. At about 3:30 a.m., the young people who lived at 2112 E Republican Street looked around for people to invite to their afterparty. They often welcomed strangers into their home.
Kyle Huff wasn’t dressed up or dancing, and had been a wallflower at the rave for most of the evening. Nevertheless, he was approached by 26-year-old Jeremy Martin, who offered him a pull off of his whisky flask. Martin told Huff that he and his roommates had a half-keg of beer back at the house. Huff agreed to stop by.
At the two-story house, about 25 people were listening to music, watching TV, drinking beer, or smoking marijuana in the basement. The atmosphere was mellow, with most people chilling out from an evening of dancing. A few chatted with Huff, although a few attendees noticed that the 6-foot, 5-inch 280-pound, 28-year-old in a green sweatshirt seemed out of place amongst the ravers. But Huff was cordial, and mostly quiet.
By sunrise, a few revelers had left the house and others had fallen asleep on beds or couches. Some continued to party and no one noticed Huff as he walked out the door and returned to his truck, which was parked nearby. Once there, Huff retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun, a 40-caliber handgun, and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. On the way back to the house, he stopped to spray-paint the word “NOW” on the sidewalk, and on the steps of a neighboring home.
As soon as Huff returned to the house, he opened fire. Two people on the porch fell down dead. Those inside tried to close the door but Huff forced his way in. Three more people were shot and killed in the living room; two more were injured and one later died from his wounds. By this time people were trying to get out of the house any way that they could, or find hiding places if they could not.Huff went upstairs looking for more partygoers, and was heard to say that there was "plenty for everyone." Two people locked themselves in the bathroom, and although the killer shot through the door, neither was hit. Huff went downstairs and -- still showing no emotion -- walked outside. The shooting lasted four minutes.
Patrol officer Steve Leonard heard the shots and arrived at the house just as Huff was making his way down the front steps. Just as Leonard yelled out "Drop your --," Huff pointed the gun at himself, and blew his own brains out.His six victims were
Jeremy Martin, age 26
Melissa Moore, age 14
Justin “Sushi” Schwartz, age 22
Suzanne Thorne, age 15
Jason Travers, age 32
Christopher “Deacon” Williamson, age 21
Police searched Huff’s truck and found more guns and ammunition, as well as a baseball bat and a machete. The police also obtained a search warrant for the North Seattle apartment that Huff shared with his twin brother, Kane. There they found more guns and ammo, and during the search, Kane arrived home, unaware of that morning’s shootings. He was questioned and released.
More than a few columnists and editorial writers in the local media called for stricter regulation of the city’s all-ages dance policies, but others, such as Josh Feit and Dan Savage of the alternative weekly The Stranger, disagreed. Noting that, “Blaming raves for the violence makes about as much sense as blaming shopping for last November's Tacoma Mall shooting. And at least, in the Tacoma case, the shooting took place at the mall.”
Many Seattle politicians and civic leaders seemed to agree. Mayor Greg Nickels (b. 1955) stated, “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.” The reasons behind the shootings may never be known.
In July 2006, a panel of experts concluded that Huff was a loner, with no network of friends. Those who did know him described him as quiet and kind, although Huff did have a small history of delinquency in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. The panel noted that after Huff arrived in Seattle in 2001, he may have sought out friends in the raver community, but with no luck, and quite possibly viewed ravers as a scapegoat for his loneliness and troubles. In the end, Kyle Huff’s motives for killing six people in cold blood rest only with him.