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Sunday, 11 January 2009

Joseph Ryan, aka 29-E, shot dead at hip-hop Chop Suey show and two others hospitalized.

07:40 |

Shortly after midnight last Saturday, gunfire erupted backstage during a hip-hop show at Chop Suey on Capitol Hill, leaving Joseph Ryan, aka 29-E, dead and two others hospitalized. According to eyewitness accounts, the gunman gained access to the backstage hallway when a performer responded to a knock at the outside door. At press time, two suspects were in police custody.Renee McMahon "Like a lot of my friends and family, I've stood in that hallway and opened [that door] dozens upon dozens of times," explains Larry Mizell Jr., MC for local hip-hop acts Cancer Rising, They Live, and Night Owls. "It's how the artists get in the venue, and rappers are always running late, so you gotta listen for that knock. It could've been any of us."Predictably, local news and culture message boards (including 206Proof, the one founded by Mizell himself) lit up instantly with fingers pointing in every direction. Whether blame was being aimed at Chop Suey, Big Kountry Entertainment (the show's outside promoter), the city's lack of attention to a purportedly growing gang-activity problem, or the music itself, grief quickly manifested itself as cries for culpability. Few viewed it as a failure of club security, but many theories abound when looking closer at the root of the tragedy.
"There's nothing else you could really do in that situation regarding the actual security setup," notes Neumos owner and talent buyer Steven Severin, a former employee of Chop Suey under different ownership."I worked at Chop Suey for four-plus years letting artists and promoters into that back door.That's where they need to be able to go in order to not have to walk through the crowds.I have opened that door hundreds of times, and there's never been one issue. It is a very unfortunate situation, to say the least, but I don't think security could have done much, as the gun didn't make it inside the venue." Funhouse owner and booking agent Brian Foss echoes Severin's assessment. "If someone banged on the back door and charged in my bar with guns blazing, there would be nothing I could do except duck," he says."From what I understand, recently there has been a rash of gang-related shootings in the [area near Chop Suey], and I think this was just part of that," says Glen Rinzler, production manager for Showbox at the Market. "I don't think the venue could have done anything different to prevent it." Rinzler was not the only member of the music community to express fears about a gang-violence connection, though many declined to go on the record about their concerns. When asked about the possibility of gang involvement in the shooting, Seattle Police Department spokesperson Mark Jamieson said, "It's far too early to draw any sort of conclusion without knowing what the motivation was...the good news is that we have several people in custody for this. We believe that they were targeting somebody, but it's way too soon to say that it was gang-related."

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