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With no known motive and possible suspects still on the lam, Seattle police are looking into the possibility that the fatal shootings of two young men Sunday may have been a hate crime.

During a news conference at the Police Department’s East Precinct on Wednesday, Mayor Ed Murray said one of the victims was gay, although he didn’t specify which nor did he say why it may have been a factor. However, when asked at the same news conference whether the shootings were being investigated as a hate crime, Assistant Police Chief Carmen Best said “nothing is off the table.”

The victims, Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, and Ahmed Said, 27, were fatally shot in the 500 block of 29th Avenue South just before 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Both were shot at close range, police said.

Hours after the slayings, Matalepuna Malu, 26, was identified by police as a suspect. He was arrested Sunday afternoon outside the Police Department headquarters after he called police and said he wanted to clear his name.

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Said’s Mitsubishi Galant, which had disappeared after the slayings, was found abandoned Tuesday on Wabash Avenue South and South Cloverdale Street in South Seattle, police said. Investigators said they are searching the vehicle for forensic evidence and other clues.

That the vehicle had been moved after the slayings leads police to believe additional suspects may be involved.

Murray stressed that neither victim had a criminal record, and Best called the pair “two outstanding citizens.”

“These were not young men involved in crime,” Murray said.

Falana Young, Anderson-Young’s mother, said her son, who is gay, had caught a ride home from RPlace, a gay club on Capitol Hill, with Said. She said the two men had recently become friends.

Police say the two men were just steps from the home Anderson-Young shared with his mother in the Central District when they were shot.

Young said she heard a noise that “sounded like a staple gun” outside her home early Sunday.

“To know I was laying in my bed and my son was outside dying,” Young said, sobbing. “I have to move. I can’t live here any longer.”

“Shocked and stunned”

Hasan Elmi, who is Said’s uncle, said the family is “shocked and stunned.” Said was Somali.

Said’s family declined to comment further, but they told KING 5 that Said worked two jobs.

“He wasn’t associated with a gang, he wasn’t associated with bad people. He was working with a good life ahead of him,” Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, a family friend, told the news station.

On Monday, King County District Court Judge Anne Harper found probable cause to hold Malu in custody for investigation of two counts of first-degree murder.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said Wednesday that prosecutors have not yet received the criminal case from Seattle police. He said Malu is being held at the King County Jail without bail, stemming from a federal probation violation and an unrelated assault that police say occurred just before the two men were shot.

Malu’s family showed up in the lobby of the East Precinct during Wednesday’s news conference. They declined to talk to the media other than to proclaim Malu’s innocence and to complain the case was going cold while investigators focused on Malu.

Police say that Malu called his brother shortly after the shootings and said he had shot someone in the face, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Malu has had numerous encounters with the criminal-justice system, including incidents involving domestic violence, drugs and illegal firearms.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Malu was linked to a group that distributed OxyContin in the Everett area and in 2011 he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

In addition, he is under investigation in an assault case and is facing a harassment charge in Snohomish County. As a result, he is also under investigation for allegedly violating the conditions of his federal supervision, court records show.

“Loved by everyone”

Young said her son “was a smart, educated and well-groomed man.”

“He was loved by everyone. He was so proud of himself. He came out to me when he was 14,” she said. “He didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”

Anderson-Young graduated from the University of Washington in 2012 with a bachelor of arts degree in communications and humanities. He spoke fluent Japanese and planned to move to Japan and work as a translator.

He is great-grandson of famed Seattle jazz musician Ernestine Anderson.

His mother said he recently started working as a data analyst for a Bellevue company.

“Dwone had a true passion for technology and kept himself and those close to him up to date on the latest gadgets and technology — he actually taught himself how to design and develop websites and mobile apps,” according to a memorial page dedicated to him. “Dwone’s longest running passion, however, was for Japanese language and culture, which began at a young age after his initial exposure to anime shows like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z.”

Anderson-Young had worked since he was young and recently moved home to focus on paying off his student loans and to help his mother out as she assisted his younger sister through college. “He always wanted to take care of me,” Young said.

A candlelight memorial for the victims will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the corner of 29th Avenue South and South King Street. Donations to help Anderson-Young’s family handle funeral costs are being taken at www.youcaring/memorial-fundraising/dwone-anderson-young-memorial-fund/186654

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

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