EDITOR’S NOTE: Come forward, for Alajawan and for Skyway community

Let’s not tip-toe around what happened to Alajawan Brown.

He was murdered.

And someone out there knows who fired that fatal gunshot or at least who was involved in the violent argument that led to that gunshot in Skyway April 29.

Maybe there was someone at Alajawan’s emotionally charged funeral Monday who has heard whispers about the perps. There was no doubt about who stole the donation jar for the Brown family at the 7-Eleven store where Alajawan died.

That argument at the Cedar Village Apartments, which has been on the Sheriff Office’s radar screen for a long time, occurred outside at 6 p.m., on a Thursday in full earshot and view of tenants.

That argument was over a family matter. It wasn’t over turf or a retaliation for a violent act. So it wasn’t really gang-related. But it likely involved members of two notorious gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. Anytime you have gangs, you have guns, said Sgt. John Urquhart, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

So, in broad daylight, in the parking lot of an apartment complex, more than 20 rounds were fired. And no one has anything to tell investigators.

Why?

The answer gets to the culture that may hold back Skyway from ever overcoming the perception (which IS NOT the same as reality) that it’s a violent place where folks don’t care to get involved.

Reasonable people in the Seattle area tend to turn to talk-show host Dave Ross on KIRO radio for a rational discussion about the issues of the day. Urquhart was on Ross’ show Tuesday morning.

I talked to Urquhart later in the day. I first asked him about Nickelsville, the vagabond tent city that has returned to Skyway. In fact, it’s just across the street from where Alajawan died.

Urquhart is a veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. He even patrolled Skyway in one of his iterations as a deputy sheriff. So, he knows the streets.

Our talk turned to two possibilities why someone in Skyway isn’t forthcoming. One is fear of being labeled a snitch. Don’t help out Big Brother, the cops. Another is fear of retaliation. A gang member’s strength is intimidation, short of bringing out a gun or knife.

Investigators have learned to work around such reticence, doing the best they can to solve a crime. But that sometimes means that bad guys go free.

Urquhart doesn’t much care why everyone seems to have forgotten what they saw or heard. What he cares about is that a 12-year-old boy is dead.

“That should trump fear and it should trump cultural attitudes about the police,” he said.

Skyway. Don’t take this wrong.

“This is by no means a condemnation of Skyway by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. The “vast majority” of Skyway residents are very helpful. It’s a silent minority that holds the key to solving Alajawan’s murder.

Some tips have come in but nothing that would lead to Alajawan’s killer – so far.

So maybe the larger community – call them Alajawan’s army – could bring some pressure to bear on those who know something. There were certainly plenty of soldiers at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church, tears streaming down their faces, who seemed to want to know why Alajawan is going to a better place.

They can help make Skyway a better place, too.


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