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South Seattle activist Elijah Lewis remembered for opposing gun violence, speaking out

caption: A sign reads, "Love is Elijah Lewis" at a memorial on Monday, April 3, 2023.
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A sign reads, "Love is Elijah Lewis" at a memorial on Monday, April 3, 2023.
KUOW Photo/ Gustavo Sagrero Álvarez

Elijah Lewis was a young community activist known for his work in the Central District and South Seattle. Lewis's family says he was shot and killed Saturday while driving in Capitol Hill with his nephew.

When Lewis spoke, he spoke with passion, and his voice carried over loud crowds.

In 2018, he gave a speech at a rally to stop gun violence in schools when he was just 18 years old.

"We are tired of seeing the multitude of people that are being killed,” Lewis said, “not just in schools, but I live in a place, south Seattle, where it happens all the time.”

Lewis was a well-known community organizer and entrepreneur, working with groups like the Africatown Community Land Trust in the Central District.

Speaking at that 2018 rally, Lewis talked about wanting to protect his family from guns.

"I've got a niece and nephew right now,” Lewis said, "and I have to think: If this is this crazy now, how crazy is it going to be when they turn 18? They're 6 and 3 right now, so that's why I'm here today."

On Saturday, Lewis's family said he was driving his nephew to a monster truck rally when they were shot.

A Seattle Police statement says Lewis was driving on East Pine Street when he went to make a right turn onto Broadway.

Before he could make the turn, Lewis got into some sort of interaction with a man riding an electric scooter, according to the police statement.

During that altercation, the man on the scooter pulled out a gun and shot three times into the car.

One bullet hit Lewis’s nephew in the calf and required stitches, police say.

Another bullet struck Lewis in the chest and killed him.

He was 23.

People have placed flowers and candles close to where Lewis was killed, and a GoFundMe has been setup for his family.

The suspect in the killing has been identified as 35-year-old Patrick Cooney. Cooney made his first appearance in King County Superior Court on Monday.

County prosecutors say they have probable cause to charge Cooney with murder in the second degree and assault in the first degree. He's being held in King County Jail in downtown Seattle on $2 million bail, the county prosecutor's office said.

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