A somber crowd of nearly 300 people stood in the center of Bobby Morris Playfield at Cal Anderson Park Friday evening to mark the passing of Portland, Texas teen Mollie Olgin and to offer a wave of support to her surviving girlfriend, Mary Kristene Chapa.
Olgin, 19, and Chapa, 18, were brutally shot in a park last Friday evening. They were found the next morning by a couple hiking the grassy area – with gunshot wounds to the head. Olgin had already passed. Chapa is currently in stable condition holding on and fighting for her life while using sign language to communicate to hospital staff.
The multigenerational semi-circle rallied for a nationally recognized vigil with a mere three days notice – a social media campaign at its finest. Spearheading the gathering was a very determined and dedicated volunteer…a gal by the name of Karolina Longoria.
Longoria, a Seattleite originally from Olympia, Wash., was devastated by the news as it made its way across the United States. Immediately, the Seattle Out & Proud marketing staffer picked up the phone and opened her web browser.
She contacted the following community members upon waking Tuesday morning: Elnora Hawley, Egan Orion, Aleksa Manila, Brian Daniel Peters, Jarod Owen, Megan Duncan, Julian Gaspay, Seattle Parks and Recreation, The Seattle Lesbian, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Gay Scene, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Reverend Michelle Carmody, Ray Aberole of Kelcema Productions, Chase Silva, and Whitney Young.
All of them showed up Friday night or offered support. Some of them printed banners while others donated sound systems and microphones. Speakers, community leaders and local media professionals arrived in true fashion – with cameras strapped around their necks and recorders out.
The concerted effort began at 7pm with opening remarks by the organizer (Longoria). Seattle Gay News’ Shaun Knittel offered the next bit of inspiration with “A Call to Action: LOVE is the Answer” and then Seattle Pridefest organizer Egan Orion took the mic to offer the legion David Guetta’s hit, “Without You” – with a guitar strapped around his torso.
Former Miss Gay Seattle Aleksa Manila took the spotlight next to discuss local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) resources – calling on everyone to stand up as she referenced different options available in dealing with LGBT issues and concerns. For the most part, they obliged. Those who did not stand were outnumbered by those who did and the consensus remained: it was a definitive community-building moment.
A former classmate of Olgin’s was in the crowd and took a moment to speak. She said that she was unable to make it back in time for Olgin’s burial, but that the Seattle candlelight vigil was occurring on the same day and wanted to pay her respects.
Mr. Gay Washington, Julian Gaspay, took a few moments to speak to the crowd before reintroducing Longoria to sing the Melissa Etheridge ballad, “Meet Me in the Dark.” The recorded Etheridge version was queued up in the event that Longoria couldn’t finish. She did finish, though, and notable sobs were heard throughout the sea of supporters.
Rev. Michelle Carmody of Metropolitan Community Church of Seattle offered an uplifting appeal, leading into a moment of serendipitous silence and the candle lighting.
Chase Silva’s jaw-dropping rendition of “Amazing Grace” concluded the evening as organizers were called to the front of the crowd to take a bow and say goodbye.
To cap off the evening, Orion asked volunteers from the crowd to help him fold the large Gay Pride Flag in symbolizing the unity of the LGBT community.
Reports suggest that Olgin and Chapa had been dating for five months before the shootings occurred. Portland police are not referring to this event as a hate crime.
No arrests have been made in association with the crime. A witness described the killer as a white male, in his 20’s, about 5’8″ tall, weighing 140 pounds, with dark hair. Anyone with information about this case can call the Portland Police Department at 361-777-1444.