Shootings

Ahmed Said (upper) and Dwone Anderson-Young (lower) were murdered, execution style, together.

Ahmed Said (upper) and Dwone Anderson-Young (lower) were murdered, execution style, together.

On the night of May 31st, two young men, Dwone Anderson-Young and Ahmed Said, spent an evening dancing at a gay bar, then were seen together later at a nearby pizza place. Dwone was the great-grandson of jazz legend Ernestine Anderson. Ahmed’s family immigrated more recently from Somalia. Dwone was less than two weeks from graduating from the University of Washington and already had a job lined up at Microsoft. Unfortunately, not many hours after they left the pizza place together, in the wee small hours of June 1st, they were both murdered on the street, not far from Dwone’s home.

The motive for the crime was unknown at first, though robbery was immediately ruled out. Neither young man was linked to any gang and neither had a criminal record. They were both openly gay and well-known in the neighborhood. While there are gay gang-bangers, they tend to be deeply, deeply closeted.

Witnesses placed another young man, one with a rather long and violent criminal record, near the scene…

That young man turned himself into police the next day when he found out they were looking for him. He was never charged with the double-murder, though he was held without bail in connection to another crime. Some time after his arrest, police named another young man, also with a long and varied record of violent crimes, as the second person of interest.

The local television stations mentioned the shooting briefly, once or twice, while police were looking for the suspects.

Less than a week after Dwone and Ahmed had been gunned down in the street, another young man walked onto the campus of Seattle Pacific University, which is a conservative religious college in north Seattle, and started shooting people. One person was killed, two were seriously injured before one student, armed only with a can of mace, tackled the shooter and wrestled his shotgun from him.

Every local television station with a news helicopter was on the scene almost immediately. For the next four or five days, the university shooting was the top story on every local news source.

The evening after the university shooting, there was a prayer vigil at the university. The Mayor showed up briefly at the university just before the official start of the vigil, made a few remarks, and then apologized before leaving because at the exact same time that the university was having its vigil because of the shooting at the school, the family and friends of Dwone and Ahmed were holding a candlelight vigil in south Seattle.

Would you like to guess which vigil received the most coverage on the evening news?

The vast majority of the students at SPU are white, and because it’s a private university that is much more expensive than any of the nearby state schools, the students are generally upper middle class. I know this about Seattle Pacific University because I am an SPU alumnus. The one student who died was asian-american, and I have seen at least one local wag try to claim that the imbalance in coverage wasn’t racist because of that.

Right.

Ahmed and Dwone’s killer has been found. I’m not going to say alleged killer, because among the evidence left behind was a very complete bloody palm print on Ahmed’s car, which the killer had used to flee the scene. He has since been identified by several witnesses as the man who met Dwone and Ahmed at the club, and who got into Ahmed’s car when they left the club. The killer was already wanted for a car jacking and violent murder of an apparently randomly selected college student in New Jersey at the time he committed his murders in Seattle. In Seattle, he set up a profile on a gay hook-up app, and used it to make a date with Ahmed and Dwone. After killing them, execution style, he fled back to New Jersey, where police caught him hiding out in a wooded area near a golf course.

At the time of his arrest, the killer identified himself as a Muslim jihadist, and made comments which indicated he had executed some faggots somewhere in order to prove himself faithful. He has since denied those statements and has pled not guilty to all the charges against him.

For the next two months, all the local news sources continued to produce detailed stories about the university shooting. We have had long and complicated profiles of the shooter, along with his alcoholic father and co-dependent mother. We’ve had stories about the young man who wrestled the shooter to the ground (who is a hero, I agree, and deserves to be recognized). We’ve had long articles about the problems of mental illness, and wondering how someone with the shooters well-documented history of psychosis and many run-ins with the law, was able to legally obtain so many weapons. We’ve had more general articles and editorials about mass shootings.

But the only times that Dwone and Ahmed have been mentioned locally since his killer was arrested less than three weeks after the shooting has been as a sidebar in the other stories. Even the local semi-radical rag that usually is all over anything that looks like they might be a hate crime (and won a Pullitzer a couple of years ago for covering double-rape and murder trial in which the victims were a lesbian couple) has only mentioned them in a couple of snarky comments about the imbalance of coverage between the two shootings. They haven’t bothered to attempt to balance that coverage out themselves, oddly enough.

I believe that the reason for the initial imbalance in coverage was primarily racism and classism. Besides being brown-skinned young men, Dwone and Ahmed lived in a neighborhood that is generally lower than average income. It’s clear from the initial coverage that, despite the police saying the did not think the killings were gang-related that the news people suspected that it had to be gangs or drugs, in some way.

I think the reason the weekly paper which usually doesn’t shy away from such stories has been ignoring this one is not because the young men are gay (more than half the staff of said paper is gay, and sometimes when it is quoted in national stories people misidentify it as Seattle’s gay paper, mostly because it covers gay and lesbian issues better than the Seattle Gay News), but rather because of how the young men were lured to their death.

It’s clear that they met their killer through a hook-up app, and it is also pretty clear that the young men were taking the killer back to Dwone’s apartment to have a three-way. This makes some people uneasy and reluctant to talk about it. I understand why. Even on gay news sites, where most of the readers and commenters are themselves gay, whenever a story about someone being robbed and/or killed by someone they met through a hook-up site or something similar, the comments section is flooded with people saying the victim brought it on themselves. When those same stories are reported at non-gay news sites, the comments are full of people saying how dirty, promiscuous faggots are simply collecting the “wages of sin.”

So Dwone and Ahmed’s tragic deaths, instead of being covered as the horrific hate crimes they are, are being swept under the rug through a combination of racism, classism, and prudery. And a good dose of journalistic timidity when it comes to stories that might give fuel to the anti-gay folks.

I suppose we should be grateful that no one is trying to paint them as criminals, since that’s what happens to brown-skinned young men who are gunned down in the street elsewhere.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live in Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

3 responses to “Shootings”

  1. onlyfragments says :

    I think it doesn’t help that people seem reluctant to admit LGBT hate crimes happen in western Washington, especially the Seattle area. We seem to want to pretend that there’s no work left to be done here so we can maintain this status of liberal, open-minded, and morally advanced. That’s a dangerous road to go down, though; just because LGBT folks are safer in Washington than other areas of the country doesn’t mean we’re SAFE.

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