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Police don't believe teen's death in Seattle park was gang related

The victim's father identified his son as Ryan Dela Cruz, a senior at Franklin High School.

Police don't believe a 17-year-old teen who was shot and killed in a south Seattle park was gang-related.

The shooting happened early Saturday morning at Martha Washington Park. Police say the teens were playing in the park because they heard it was haunted. Another group arrived in a car and fired gun shots.

The victim's father identified his son as Ryan Dela Cruz, a senior at Franklin High School in Seattle.

Witnesses called 911 just after midnight Saturday morning to report the teen had been shot multiple times. A group of young people had been playing in the park when a car pulled up and someone began firing rounds in a wooded area.

Responding police officers found the boy with three gunshot wounds in the wooded area. Medics took the teen to Harborview Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.

"We do not believe this young man was targeted in any way. We believe this is an isolated incident that occurred there," said Marc Garth Green, Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief - Investigations Bureau. Watch full news conference

"We do not believe this to be gang-related shooting at all. In fact, what this is is a group of young people taking part in a park because they heard there were ghost stories and it was haunted. So they were down there in the woods in the hours of darkness to kind of have a fun adventure," Green added. "Unfortunately a tragic event happened there."

Dela Cruz's father, Henry Tacazon, came to the park Saturday evening to leave a memorial for his youngest son.

"My son, he's a dreamer -- but his dream has been taken," said Tacazon.

He said his son was a senior at Franklin High, and a good student. He said he wanted to join the Marines after graduation.

He said he came from the Philippines to raise his family in a safe place.

"I tell God, you are unfair, but it's your will be done," Tacazon said through tears. "Yeah, it is what it is. I thought we live in the great America, a safe place. But I don't know what is going on in this place."

Investigators were canvassing the area and surrounding neighborhood and streets for further evidence as well as interviewing more witnesses to get a description of the suspect. Garth Green says a heavy police presence will be at and around the park throughout the weekend.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Seattle Police Department Homicide/Assault tip line at (206) 233-5000.

In the meantime, Tacazon said he forgives the suspects, though he hopes they're found.

"Whoever did this one, I don't know what's in your mind, doing this," he said. "...I pray for your soul being forgiven as well."

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