How a young man's blood had spilled, outside a Jack in the Box on Rainier Avenue South, was something no one could explain.

Share story

I pulled into the parking lot carefully; I didn’t want to drive through the blood of a dead man.

How it had spilled here, outside the Jack in the Box on Rainier Avenue South, was something no one could explain to me.

“If I could help you, I would,” said one young man in an SUV who pulled into the parking lot and leaned out of his rolled-down window to get a look at the red stain.

This was the third shooting death within a square mile since February, when two men were shot and killed at Maya’s Mexican Restaurant.

“This neighborhood is off the hook,” said Bryant Westbrook, 25, who works at the adjacent All In the Cut barber shop and grew up here. “Before I was 10, I had to duck from a drive-by [shooting] on Graham.”

“It’s just a lot of kids under 25 who don’t have nothing to do,” he said. The Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club is too far away, and it costs money to get there by bus. They don’t hang out at the library across the street. They hang around here and make trouble like this.

“Times have changed,” he said. “The rappers are the role models now. If one kid rolls up in a nice car or with some jewelry, he better have a gun, or someone is going to take it from him.

“There’s not a logical reason behind it.”

His co-worker, who wouldn’t give his name, kept his back to the parking lot.

“I’m trying not to look,” he said. “I’m just hoping it can stop, because we’ve got a good business here.”

People came and went. Cars crawled past.

But Denise Lloyd got out of her truck and stood over the bloodstain.

She had come to see the place where her nephew, Courtney Taylor, had been shot Wednesday night and, like me, wanted to know why.

“Can you tell me why he died?” Lloyd asked a clutch of young people who stood nearby. “I need to explain to his mother.”

Her words were like a gale-force wind. She wanted to knock the truth out of someone. She wanted to know.

No one said anything for a moment.

Quite a difference from the night before, when police said a group of people kept medics from getting to Taylor. Everyone was yelling then. Everyone was full of bravado.

Not now. Not when a family member shows up and starts asking questions.

D’aye Perryman mustered a response: “People are just ignorant.”

Lloyd shook her head.

“Senseless. Senseless,” she muttered.

Lloyd, 50, works for the Miracle Food Bank, and had been driving around, knowing that her nephew had been shot the night before and died at Harborview.

When her job brought her to the nearby Safeway to pick up some donated food, she pulled over to see the spot where it all happened.

“I wanted to see,” Lloyd said. “I had to come see his blood there on the ground.”

She snapped a photo of the stain with her cellphone, as well as one of the heart-shaped balloons and roses set on the nearby curb. For his mother, Michelle Taylor, who lives in Atlanta.

“She’ll never talk to or touch him again,” Westbrook said. “That’s what she told me this morning.”

What did Westbrook want to tell people?

“Stop the killing,” she said. “Would you tell them? I’m asking them to stop the killing.

“We’re dying for things that mean nothing.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

Say a prayer for his kids.