Police: 'Danger has passed' in search for Molly Conley shooting suspect

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

SEATTLE - Police in Snohomish County want to know if multiple reports of shots fired over the weekend are connected to the shooting death of 15-year-old Molly Conley.

Detectives have been searching for a suspect since the Saturday night shooting, but have given few details.

“I think it is safe to say that the danger has passed,” Snohomish County Sheriff Spokesperson Shari Ireton told KIRO 7 Monday afternoon. “We don’t have anyone in custody, but we don’t believe there is further danger to the public at this point.”

Ireton didn’t elaborate. But regarding Conley's shooting, Ireton said “detectives haven’t verified whether this was targeted or random.”

In Marysville, resident Michael Cavanaugh said he hasn’t slept since Sunday morning when bullets shattered a window in his children’s room.

Cavanaugh also hasn’t removed the loaded pistol from his hip.

The Marysville father says he and his fiancée were asleep with their two children in the next room when a bullet shattered the children’s window about 2 a.m. Sunday. Four more bullets struck cars in the driveway, shattering windows and waking up neighbors.

"We're looking for a place to get out of here." neighbor Christin Cissell told KIRO 7.

Cavanaugh says officers told him they’d already responded to two shooting calls in Lake Stevens. Conley was shot to death about 11 p.m. while she was walking with friends. About 90 minutes later, someone called 911 after hearing gunshots in a neighborhood a few miles away.

Cavanaugh said the person who shot his house might have been looking for someone who has stayed there before, but who has no connection to his family.

For now, he’s staying at the house alone, with a loaded gun.

“I don't want to be driven out of my house,” Cavanaugh said. “I don’t want them to think that they've won.”

At Bishop Blanchet High School, where Conley was about to finish her freshman year, students began the school day with a prayer service in the gymnasium.

Conley’s older brother encouraged students to tell friends and family they loved them.

Students came to the North Seattle school wearing Conley’s favorite colors: University of Washington purple and Blanchet’s kelly green. Those who knew Conley say they’re still coming to terms with the loss of the sweet-faced freshman who was a straight-A student.

“She would always just light up my day if I was sad,” said freshman Joe Capestany, who had a drama class with Conley.

A lacrosse and soccer player, Conley turned 15 on Friday and was celebrating with friends Saturday in Lake Stevens. The group was walking along South Lake Stevens Road Saturday night when she was fatally wounded in what police called a drive-by shooting.

Blanchet’s president, Antonio DeSapio, said grief counselors were available for students and that the Catholic community would help them through the difficult time.

“Teachers lead with their faith and their hearts,” DeSapio said, “and they’re able to really walk with the students in an open and honest way about dealing with death and grief.”

Friends gathered at Golden Gardens Monday night to remember Molly Conley. They said school was so somber Monday, they wanted to get back to focusing on how Conley lived.

They celebrated her live on the beach, spelling out her name in stones, and gathering around a bonfire. Friends comforted Molly's brother, Johnny, who is a sophomore at Blanchet. "We want him to know we're there for him and we care about him, "said Henry Halvorson, who plays on the Blanchet High Football Team with Johnny Conley.

While they remembered Molly, they also were hopeful police could find who is responsible. Ryan Gross, who first met Molly in elementary school, said, "I really hope they can find the person who did this because losing a loved one is so hard already. When you don't have any justice, it's cruel, it's wrong."

Conley's family released the following statement:

"We loved Molly so very much. She was a great girl, she loved her family, her friends, her school and she loved life. She loved her sister, her brother and her parents. She was from a loving and close family, including the Conroy's of Seattle and the Conley's of Spokane.

She always smiled, she gave people smiles, and she was joyful and kind. She had a generous spirit," said Molly's mom Susan Arksey.

Her father, John Conley is from a large Spokane family. Molly especially loved the wonderful family gatherings with her many Spokane cousins.

Molly was a great student and studied very hard. Her nickname with her Lacrosse team was "4.0." Molly started playing boys Lacrosse when she was about 9. She was fierce and the spectators adored seeing her two braided pony tails coming out below her helmet.

This year Molly played on the Roosevelt Varsity Lacrosse team with other Blanchet students. She played every game even getting a score. She loved the sport, the girls and her coaches. Her brother John told the Lacrosse girls that this season with them was the happiest time in her life.

Molly was also a soccer player during her years at Our Lady of Fatima and at Blanchet. She played goalie really well, and in fact during one game she blocked so many goals that the referee commented that her coach should be taking her out to dinner!

"In a different game, Molly had another few great saves. She walked off the field with the ball in her hand. She was muddy, she had a clump of sod in her hair and she was beaming. That is the picture I have of her," said Fred Grimm, Molly's CYO coach.

 Grimm went on to say," With a quiet determination, Molly had a unique combination of fierce competitiveness, with a gentle spirit."

Molly and her mom started an organization called "Mother's Helper." Though not a registered non-profit, up until now it was an effort mostly supported by Molly's Grandma Pearl Conroy, Molly's family and Magnolia neighbors. It is an organization that Molly named, to help mothers with babies who have just arrived in domestic violence shelters in Seattle.

The shelters make contact with a list of what they need – such as diapers, formula, and clothing. Molly named this cause Mother's Helper because as she maintained, who needs help more than a woman in that tough situation?

Because Molly wanted to so passionately, the family served as foster parents to babies for Catholic Community Services. Molly loved to go pick up a new baby at the hospital or one that was waiting at a caseworkers office. She was thrilled to help them, nurture them and give them wonderful, loving care.

Molly could often be heard saying "Mom, when are we going to get a baby?" and she was filled with joy when word came that a baby was coming home with them.

"I think of Molly as being sweet and fun and lighthearted with an inner intensity about her," said Matthew Arksey, Molly's stepfather. "She was an old soul," added her mom Susan.

Molly loved to read books and to go to moves with her dad and she loved "The Hunger Games." Jennifer Lawrence was her favorite actress.

Molly was born in Seattle on May 31, 1998 at Providence Hospital. She has an older sister Tara Conley, a senior at The Center School and an older brother Johnny, who is a sophomore at Bishop Blanchet High School.

Her father is John Conley, of Seattle, and her mother and step father, Matthew and Susan Arksey.