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Community mourns after death of Central District leader, business owner

Hundreds gathered along Seattle's Martin Luther King Jr. Way Thursday night, in remembrance of D'Vonne Pickett Jr. who died this week.

“He wanted to show everybody you could do it different," Pickett's wife KeAnna told the crowd gathered near their small business, The Postman.

Flowers and heartfelt messages lined the door of The Postman Thursday, leading up to the evening's vigil. That's where D’Vonne Pickett Jr. opened a third-party mail service center, building upon his family's legacy established generations ago in the same neighborhood.

Pickett died Wednesday evening after he was shot waiting at a bus stop, not far from his store. Seattle police report that, along with King County SWAT teams, officers have arrested a suspect in the shooting. Detectives allege that the suspect is also involved with another homicide and other shootings in the area.

""D’Vonne was known for his kindness, determination, and passion for uplifting the Seattle community and making a positive impact in the Central District with his business, The Postman, which honored the legacy of his late grandfather," Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement. "Along with his family-run business, he was also a youth sports coach, giving his time and talent to mentoring our young people and shaping the next generation of leaders in this city. The profound impact he had on the Central District and Seattle will not be forgotten. I am praying for his wife KeAnna, his children, and everyone in the community who had the privilege of knowing him."

The death has shocked the community that viewed Pickett as a community leader and an inspiration. His family has lived in the Central District for generations. His great-grandfather was a mail carrier there for 37 years. Pickett played basketball for Rainier Beach High School before playing for Seattle University. He married his high school sweetheart, who also grew up in the neighborhood.

After college, Pickett became an entrepreneur. Honoring his family's history of postal work, he started a third-party mail service center, The Postman, in honor of his great grandfather.

In addition to being a father of three, a husband, and local small business owner, Pickett also coached local little league and was known as a youth mentor, according to Converge Media, which covered Pickett's efforts to start The Postman in 2018.

A Puget Sound Business Journal profile on Pickett, and his wife KeAnna, states that the couple failed to find decent loans and funding to start the business. So, family and friends chipped in. With $20,000, they funded their business ambitions, and soon set even more ambitious goals (such as raising $5 million to expand). The shop soon employed six people at 1143 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, proving to be a success while garnering headlines.

This story was originally posted Thursday, Oct. 20, and updated Friday, Oct. 21 following a candlelight vigil for Pickett.

KUOW's Jason Pagano contributed to this report.

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