South Seattle pastor speaks out after fatal shooting in church

SEATTLE — A South Seattle pastor spoke out after a man was shot and killed Wednesday inside the church he leads.

The fatal shooting happened before 4 p.m. inside the church and in front of 40 people.

At one point Wednesday, the entire area near Emerald City Bible Fellowship’s church sign was taped off and filled with investigators.

Harvey Drake met with a KIRO 7 reporter outside the church a day after the shooting, which struck the heart of a place he knows is a sanctuary.

“It’s a little disturbing to think that a sacred space like this would be infiltrated by such hardship,” Drake said.

He also sounded off and gave this message: “We are a church that has a commitment to this community.”

Although the pastor said he works to do good in the community, the awful incident gave him pause.

“That’s the space we go to when we want to find peace and solace and comfort and encouragement, and then to have something like that occur — it’s just disheartening and heartbreaking,” Drake said.

Seattle police said one man entered the church and got into an argument with another man, and then one shot and killed the other.

“At 4 o’clock yesterday, when I got the call, and the person simply said, ‘Pastor, I got some bad news for you,’ I thought they were going to tell me someone was leaving the staff, only to say there was a shooting in the building, and my heart just sank,” said Drake.

For the pastor, the mid-afternoon shooting underlines the struggle against gun violence that has plagued his community.

“We ought to want to experience happiness, and then to actually have somebody to lose their life in front of you — I can only imagine what it’s doing to those young people,” he said.

The director of Rainier Health and Fitness, Alicia Haskins — who connected to the church — was there during the shooting: “Just felt, just fear of the unknown because, at the time, we didn’t know what was going on.”

Drake and Haskins said they did not know the victim or suspect but believe they were young people who knew each other.

“(We) just continued prayer because we knew somebody was fighting for their life,” Haskins said.

Even though the shooting has scarred the church, the pastor said he will help and forgive the suspect since he believes we can all be redeemed.

“Without equivocation, we will do everything we can to keep building this community. We want to accentuate the positive things that happen, then kind of the not-so-good things so that we can live into the vision that God has for all of us,” Drake said.