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Saturday, January 12, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Teen found slain in South Seattle street

Seattle Times staff reporters

A 14-year-old boy was found shot and killed Friday afternoon on a South Seattle street, where his body apparently had lain since the night before.

Someone called 911 at 2:40 p.m. Friday to report finding a body behind a car in the 4200 block of South Rose Street in Rainier Valley, said police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

Police responded, and the boy was pronounced dead a short time later. Homicide detectives are investigating.

Neighbors and family members of the boy, identified by an uncle as DéChé Morrison, gathered just beyond the yellow police tape surrounding the scene Friday night as investigators used dogs and flashlights to search for clues. The uncle, Sedric Reine, tried to comfort Morrison's grieving mother.

Cris Turner and Robert Mathis, who live a half block from where the body was found, said they heard two loud bangs — possibly gunshots — about 9 p.m. Thursday.

After the bangs, Mathis said, he looked out the window of the RV where they sleep and saw a short, young man running toward some houses.

"It was very, very loud," Turner said. The pair talked about calling police but decided against it, figuring the bangs were caused by kids playing with fireworks.

However, someone else in the area did report hearing gunshots in the area Thursday night, Jamieson said.

Officers responded to that call but didn't find any signs of gunfire, Jamieson said. Investigators are looking into whether the death is related. Members of the Seattle police gang unit were in the area at the time of the call and responded to the scene, Jamieson said. It's too soon to tell whether the shooting was gang related, he said.

Morrison had been a freshman at Cleveland High School in South Seattle until November, when he stopped attending. He wasn't enrolled in any other school in the Seattle School District.

Morrison's father, Gordon Scott, told KIRO-TV that his son had called Thursday night saying he was staying the night at a friend's house.

He said he got a call Friday saying Morrison was in the hospital then found out he was dead in the street.

Scott said he was angry that whoever was with his son left him to die rather than calling for help.

Pastor Zachary Bruce Sr. of the Freedom Church in Southwest Seattle arrived at the scene Friday evening and led family members and friends in prayer.

Bruce said he didn't know Morrison or his family but was asked by someone who knew the teen to come.

"All I can tell you, really, is that this rips my heart," he said. "People just want to see this [kind of violence] stop."

The community has been fighting to keep teenagers in school and get them jobs, but there's still work to be done, he said.

This is the second slaying of a one-time Cleveland High School student in about a week.

Allen Joplin, 17, was shot to death at a back-to-school party inside an art studio in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood shortly before midnight Jan. 3.

Joplin was struck by gunfire after apparently getting into an argument with two men who crashed the party, according to police.

Joplin had been a football player at Cleveland last fall, but he was recently attending the YMCA-run Seattle Rotary Education Center. Nobody has been arrested in his slaying; the Seattle Police Department gang unit is investigating.

Joplin's sister said the slain teen was not a gang member.

Jamieson of Seattle police said "it's way too early to tell" whether the two slayings are connected.

Investigators will have to determine if there's a connection — before that, it's all speculation, he said.

Brian Alexander: 206-464-2026 or balexander@seattletimes.com

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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