The man killed in an early morning shooting in the Chinatown-International District has been identified as Donald "Donnie" Chin, director of the International District Emergency Center.

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Donald “Donnie” Chin, the director of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), has died following a shooting early Thursday morning.

Seattle police said they were called to Eighth Avenue South and South Lane Street just before 3 a.m. after shooting was reported. The wounded victim was found in a car.

The man, later identified as 59-year-old Chin, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. He died a short time later. Police do not believe he was the intended target of the shooting.

Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, called Chin the savior of the Chinatown International District.

“He is the patrol for the ID, volunteering for the ID. The last person I thought would get killed is Donnie. He is a survivor, he has survival instincts. People in the community are shocked, they are in disbelief,” said Ng, choking back tears.

From the archives

See a profile of Donnie Chin that ran in The Seattle Times in 1991  

More on Donnie Chin

International District Emergency Center director Donnie Chin was recently honored by OCA-Greater Seattle with a Golden Circle Award. (Photo courtesy of International Examiner)
International District Emergency Center director Donnie Chin was recently honored by OCA-Greater Seattle with a Golden Circle Award. (Photo courtesy of International Examiner)
 

Gifts in Chin’s memory

Donations may be made on Chin’s behalf to the International District Emergency Center, via the Seattle Foundation’s IDEC page.

Ng said the person responsible for the shooting “probably has no idea” of Chin’s prominence.

Ng said members of the community have long fought to secure funding for the IDEC. She doesn’t know what will happen to the center now that Chin is gone.

“He is our frontline hero,” she said, adding “I don’t know what he was thinking being out at that time of night.”

Donald “Donnie” Chin, head of the International District Emergency Center, was killed in a shooting early Thursday morning. (The Seattle Times)
Donald “Donnie” Chin, head of the International District Emergency Center, was killed in a shooting early Thursday morning. (The Seattle Times)

The Asian Counseling and Referral Service issued a statement: “We lost a hero. Our hearts grieve along with our community. We all loved and respected Donnie, a community organizer, community builder, and community leader who looked out for, and watched over, our youth, seniors, and other vulnerable members of our community in the I.D. for 45 years. He promoted public safety, protected the community, and was one of the community’s beating hearts. He gave his life for our community, and we will never forget him.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray expressed his sympathies, calling Chin a “great community leader,” while Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole described him as “a wonderful friend to the SPD,” adding, “We will also work tirelessly to bring his killer to justice.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine, meanwhile, tweeted: “The loss of Donnie Chin hits at the very heart of our community. Our hearts go out to friends & loved ones, and those whose lives he touched.”

Deputy Police Chief Carmen Best said there will be a community meeting to discuss the shooting at 5 p.m. Thursday at Legacy Hall, 409 Maynard Ave S.

According to its website, the IDEC’s mission is “to help make the International District a safe place to live, visit, work, provide services, and conduct business – and to quickly respond to emergency situations in the area.”

Chin had patrolled the streets of Chinatown-International District since he was in junior high school after finding that private ambulance companies were slow to respond to 911 calls, according to a 1991 Seattle Times story. The story recounted how Chin had the respect of medics, residents and business owners and was welcomed when he responded to 911 calls that were relayed over his police scanner.

Dr. Michael Copass, the former director of Emergency Services at Harborview and former medical director of Seattle Medic One, said in 1991, that Chin often beat paramedics to  trauma victims and even “started CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) more than any one person in town.”

“He’s sort of like a protector of the people in the International District,” Copass said.

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Copass said some of his elderly patients would take their prescriptions to Chin, who made sure they took their medication regularly.

“He’s the county drugstore, sheriff, police and fire department all rolled into one,” Copass said in 1991.

Over the years, Chin developed a tight relationship with medics, firefighters and police officers.

In an interview for the 1991 Times story, Chin said the IDEC is “able to relate to the community on a one-to-one basis, whereas other services can’t.”

In addition to calls about medical emergencies, Chin would respond to reports about people sleeping in the streets, stolen items, electrical blackouts, lost kids and locked cars. He often checked on elderly residents who hadn’t been seen by neighbors for a few days.

A candlelight memorial service for Chin will be held at 9 p.m. Sunday at Hing Hay Park, 423 Maynard Ave S. The memorial is open to the public.

Seattle Police address Donnie Chin’s slaying:

Seattle Police Assistant Chief Robert Merner answers reporters’ questions about the shooting death of community leader Donnie Chin, who had managed the International District Emergency Center since the late 1960s. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times)