Friends and family members gathered along Langston Avenue on Monday evening near a growing memorial for Minh Phu, 22, of Renton, who was fatally shot over the weekend.
Phu had been celebrating his birthday at a friend’s house when he decided to go outside and charge his cell phone in another friend’s car.
Johnny S., one of Phu's friends, who didn't want his full last name used, was at the intimate gathering of family members and close friends Sunday and was standing in the front yard when he heard “about five shots.”
“We had nothing to worry about,” he said of Phu charging his phone in a car parked along the street just up the hill from the house. “He was on the right path when this happened.”
On Monday, the King County Medical Examiner's Office classified the incident as a homicide and noted Phu’s cause of death was from multiple gunshot wounds.
Phu would have turned 23 on Aug. 20.
Instead of celebrating his birthday Monday, about 30 people gathered to remember Phu and honor his life. They brought cases of beer, soda, juice and cake, flowers and candles, and toasted their friend.
Another friend who also didn't want her last name used, Amy L., wasn’t at the party Sunday, but had plans to meet Phu at The Landing on Monday for happy hour at The Rock or Red Robin to mark his 23rd birthday.
Instead, she gathered with his friends, all of whom were trying to make sense of an otherwise senseless event.
Phu had a difficult past, she said, but he was turning his life around. He’d recently gotten a job at Formula One and was doing some landscaping work.
“If you were in need of anything at all, he was there for you,” she said.
Amy met Phu at Mercer Middle School more than a decade ago.
“To me, he was a little brother,” she said.
Amy was in disbelief when she first heard of Phu’s death.
“It was unreal to me,” she said. “This is the first death I’ve dealt with.”
Vanessa Sabellano learned of the shooting via Facebook.
She, too, said Phu was like family and sometimes stayed at her home.
“He was good to my boys,” she said, recalling how he loaned her money for her child’s first birthday party when she couldn’t afford cake or toys.
The lack of information about the shooting frustrates Sabellano, who feels the police should do more, but doesn’t exactly know how.
“I mean no disrespect, but I don’t think (the police) are doing their jobs,” she said, adding that even if neighbors saw something along the pitch-black residential street, they’re hesitant to say anything. “People don’t want to get involved.”
But even with that hurdle in mind, it’s important for police to figure out who did this, not only for Phu’s family and friends but also for his soul, she said.
“In Asian culture there needs to be closure so he can be at rest,” Sabellano said.