Police are investigating the Belltown slaying of Brent McDonald, a beloved art and woodworking teacher, whom friends describe as a gentle soul devoted to mentoring children.
He’s described as a gentle soul, a man with quiet strength who committed his life to teaching art and woodworking to low-income and immigrant middle-school children as a means to prepare them for life’s greater challenges.
Now, those who knew Brent McDonald say his unsolved slaying on a Belltown sidewalk early Sunday leaves a void in the Central District’s cultural-arts community — and an even bigger one for his longtime partner and her daughter, whom he helped raise.
“I’m going to echo his partner and say, if there were more Brents in this world, the perpetrators of this crime might not have been in the positions to make such poor choices,” said Claudia Stelle, executive director of Coyote Central, a nonprofit youth-arts studio where McDonald worked for 11 years.
After receiving reports of shots fired about 3 a.m. Sunday, Seattle police officers found McDonald, 49, lying on a sidewalk in the 2100 block of Third Avenue with a gunshot wound to his torso. Officers attempted to resuscitate McDonald, and fire medics took him to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.
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Police have released surveillance video from near where McDonald was shot. It depicts two suspects, a man and a woman in their 30s to 40s, standing on a sidewalk right before the shooting.
Footage also shows a light-colored sedan, possibly a Mercedes-Benz station wagon, which investigators believe may be associated with the suspects.
McDonald’s slaying came just hours before he was scheduled to teach a woodworking course at Coyote Central, at 23rd Avenue and East Cherry Street in the Central District.
Since about 2004, he had worked part time for the nonprofit, where he taught some 700 students during weekend and summertime courses in furniture design and building, woodworking and various public art-installation projects, Stelle said.
“He was a wonderful mentor for kids, a wonderful teacher,” Stelle said. “He was really talented at supporting their creativity in their designs and always encouraged them to express themselves.”
McDonald leaves behind a longtime partner, Danielle Logan, and her 15-year-old daughter whom he had helped raise since she was a preschooler.
“We are devastated that such a peaceful and kind person was taken from us so suddenly and by such violent means,” Christine Edgar, a friend of the family, wrote on an online-fundraising page she set up to aid McDonald’s family.
By noon Thursday, the GoFundMe page had drawn more than $22,000 in donations from 338 people. The money will be used to help McDonald’s family with his memorial service and to help his partner with other expenses resulting from his sudden death, the page says.
“Danielle is one of the hardest-working people I know, but with Brent gone, she will struggle to cover everyday bills and needs for herself and her daughter,” Edgar wrote.
Meantime, homicide detectives continue to investigate McDonald’s slaying. Police ask anyone with information to call the Seattle police tip line at 206-233-5000.