Hundreds of friends, family and strangers gathered at Seattle Center on Sunday for a remembrance of the people shot to death at a rave party last March.

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They came to remember the young people who died in senseless violence one year ago.

But laughter, not tears, prevailed at a remembrance held Sunday at Seattle Center for the victims of the Capitol Hill shootings.

The air pulsed with energetic music, soap bubbles wafted through Fisher Pavilion and a man strolled through the crowds hoisting a placard promising free hugs.

Hundreds of friends, family and strangers came to celebrate the six lives cut short by Kyle Huff.

Huff, a troubled loner from Montana, briefly left a late-night party attended by ravers on Republican Street, then returned to open fire on the partygoers. Huff killed six people and wounded two before killing himself. The reasons behind Huff’s rampage remain unclear.

The names and ages of the people killed in the March 25, 2006, shootings by Kyle Huff, who also killed himself:

Melissa Moore, 14

Suzanne Thorne, 15

Chris Williamson, 21

Justin Schwartz, 22

Jeremy Martin, 26

Jason Travers, 32

Many came to Sunday’s remembrance because being a raver means you automatically belong to a surrogate family.

Vincent “Vango” Inch felt the love.

“I could probably walk up and hug anybody and they’ll hug me back,” said Inch, a 20-year-old music student at Pacific Lutheran University who has attended raves with some of the people who died in the rampage.

A slide show of the victims appeared on a large screen behind him.

The year since Seattle’s second-deadliest shooting has drawn the local rave community even closer together.

Sandie Williamson, whose 21-year-old son, Chris, was among those killed, credited the support of his friends for her own fortitude.

“For a year, they have kept me alive,” Williamson said. “I thank everybody who’s helped us get through this.”

Williamson said she cried for three weeks as the anniversary approached. But Sunday she bustled about cracking jokes and greeting friends, determined to keep the tears at bay.

“For one thing, I’m in charge of the food. So that won’t be very sanitary,” Williamson said. Still, she admitted struggling with her private sorrow.

“My faith in God is very shaky,” she said. “I’m even angry.”

Williamson turned to embrace an approaching man, the father of Melissa Moore, who at 14 was the youngest of the shooting victims. He declined to comment.

Another hug came from Miranda Konupek, her son’s friend who used to work security at rave parties.

Konupek, who is studying to become a surgical technician, said the shooting gave the public a distorted picture of the rave community. He said the community is defined by tolerance and inclusion.

“They think we’re just a bunch of messed-up kids,” Konupek, 24, said. “But we’re just family.”

Kyung Song: 206-464-2423 or