Central District Vigil For Slain Man: 'He Was A Gentle Soul' | KUOW News and Information

Central District Vigil For Slain Man: 'He Was A Gentle Soul'

Jul 7, 2015

Members of Seattle's black clergy mourned the recent shooting death of a black man in his 30s in Seattle's Central Area. The man, identified by those at the vigil as Torrence Spillers, was killed on Thursday afternoon. 

Andrea Sigler Castro, one of Spillers' teachers, spoke at the vigil. She said Spillers struggled.

"I wanted to say that Torrence, he struggled," she said. "He struggled as a student. It was tough for him, but I've never had a student who wanted to change as much as Torrence did. He'll be missed. He was a gentle soul."

Said Pastor Lawrence Ricky Willis, president of the United Black Christian Clergy: "This young man, he was on the right track. I can personally say he was on the right track. It shouldn't happen like this. This should be our success story instead of a burial service."

And Reverend Greg Banks of First AME Church: "I haven't had the opportunity to speak with Torrence's mother or his family, but I can only imagine the pain that they're going through right now. It's hard for a parent to bury child."

"My prayer today is that we as a community sit down, talk with each other, talk with our officials and figure out what it is we need to do to make a change."

Several Seattle Police officers also spoke about their personal reaction to young deaths, and their efforts to work with community on safety and prevention.

"We've been to a lot of these, and it's got to stop," Seattle Police Captain John Hayes said. "So many officers say, 'My goal is to make sure this doesn't happen again.' We don't always succeed. But I know everyone standing around here has prevented something from happening -- by your nod, your smile, your assistance, your prayers. Let's continue going in that direction."

The vigil ended with everyone joining hands in prayer.

Spillers was found with multiple gunshot wounds after 4 p.m. on Thursday. Central Area neighbors started calling 911 after hearing gunshots near 24th Avenue and East Marion. Police say homicide detectives, crime scene investigators and the gang unit are investigating.

The shooting is one of several in the Central Area neighborhood in recent days.

Meanwhile, black clergy leaders plan to hold a rally on Tuesday afternoon calling for the end of violence against black people. The march is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Seattle's First AME Church, 1522 14th Ave.

Correction 7/6/2015: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the victim.