Neighborhood Superheroes

It was windy and the flowers had fallen over. The note on the door said that the Wing Luke Museum, right behind me, would be collecting the notes and gifts left here, archiving them for the family. I didn’t know who the guy was or what had happened, only that it wasn’t that long ago and that he seemed to be well loved, so I asked at the front desk at the Museum. He was Donnie Chin and he had been killed in a shooting incident in Seattle’s International District. He wasn’t, the reports say, the target at all, but he was in the wrong place, or maybe the right one for him. Maybe he was trying to intervene — it’s what he did — and became a victim in addition to the hero he already was.

The girl I talked to knew him, she sang his praises but also, laughed about some of the things he’d do. “He’d have these corner BBQs,” she said, “and he go buy the cheapest possible bread and get these bright red hot dogs, and that’s what he’d feed everyone. It was bad, and it was funny, and we’d just laugh.”

She told me about his work to help his neighbors in Seattle’s International District, how he’d be the guy who would know what to do while you waited for the police or the fire department to arrive. “So, he was like your neighborhood watch guy?” I asked.

“More like Batman,” she said. She was serious.

Donnie Chin was shot and killed in July of 2015. I didn’t know who he was before I found his memorial in an alley in the International District, and I’m sorry about that.

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