Survivor of family shooting rampage joins memorial service


by KING 5 News

Posted on September 24, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Updated Saturday, Sep 25 at 11:21 AM

SEATTLE - As family and friends gathered Friday night to honor those killed in a shooting rampage in a West Seattle home, the family of the shooter revealed she had been struggling with schizophrenia and depression for years.

Choeuy Harm, 62, mourns not only his wife, but son-in-law Choeun Harm, and his granddaughters Jennifer Harm and Melina Phan.

"He's saying he's left with nothing," said a Khmer translator for Harm, "and he feels just completely alone, and he feels very appreciative to have such a great foundation, great support from friends."

On Thursday afternoon, Harm's wife Sanoeun Phan shot and killed two of her grandchildren and her son-in-law before killing herself.  She also shot her daughter Thy Luellen, 40, who managed to escape.

A statement from the family on Friday said she had sought medical attention "numerous times" and had been taking medication prescribed to her.

"It is not certain whether she has been properly taking her medication these past couple of months," the statement said.

Assistant Chief Jim Pugel said at a news conference Friday the dead included a 14-year-old girl, a 17-year-old girl and a 43-year-old man. Luellen, the mother of the two teenage girls, was injured. She was released from Harborview Medical Center Friday afternoon.

Pugel said the motive is still not known.

"We don't know any motive for this terrible tragic event," he said. "There is no past police response other than a parking ticket written the previous day."

During the rampage, Kevin Harm grabbed his 7-year-old sister and jumped from an open window. He still doesn't understand what happened.

"I just went back inside and seen all the spots and everything. Kind of made me want to throw up," said Kevin.

The family's statement said no arguments or fights took place the night before the shootings and no ill will existed in the household.

"This has truly been an unforeseen, tragic event," the statement said.

Pugel said three others were in the house at the time of the shooting, including a 7-year-girl and two adults. They all jumped out a window to safety.

A man who later was determined to be the woman's husband entered the house through the back, then later ran out to tell officers his wife had shot herself.

Pugel said based on initial findings, at least 20 rounds were fired inside the house. Two handguns were recovered.

"We are continuing to talk to witnesses, family and friends of the deceased," said Pugel.

Friends and family shocked

Not long after her release from the hospital Friday afternoon, the sole surviving gunshot victim attended a service for the people who died. Her back braced with pillows, Thy Luellen sat with dozens of others, including her father, at the service at Sahak Khemararam Buddhist Association. 

Friends and family have set up a memorial fund at local Bank of Americas

On Friday morning, Sean Phuong arrived at the home just as detectives were beginning to work. Phuong is a family friend of the victims, who was allowed inside to gather clothing and some other belongings for the survivors. Phuong said he had already been to the hospital to check on Luellen, who relatives said was shot four times.

"She don't know anything yet in the hospital she know only one her husband died, but the other two, her daughters, she don't know yet," he said.

It started Thursday afternoon with a report of shots fired. When Seattle Police arrived they discovered a 60-year-old grandmother dead.

Police say the woman first killed her son-in law Choeun Harm. She then went into a bedroom where her two granddaughters were hiding.

She shot and killed 17-year-old Jennifer Harm and 14-year-old Melina Harm.

Their mother, Thy Luellen, was also shot as she was running away. She survived and was able to tell police "my mom is going crazy."

The two teen-age victims are no longer registered in Seattle Public Schools. But we do know Jennifer attended Rainier Beach High School for a while.

"She's a cool a person like she was one of the ones who came to school and stuff like that and she like had B or C's and I don't know, she just did a lot of work," said Joey Recoi.

"It's real wrong like why would kill your own granddaughter I mean that's your own moms daughter," said Dillion Jones.

Neighbors say 11 people were living in the small, three-bedroom home.