Memories, sadness – and hugs

January 4, 2007 

Foss High School students take a moment Wednesday night to reflect on the day’s events that left one fellow student dead from a gunshot wound and another in police custody, suspected in the killing.

PETER HALEY/THE NEWS TRIBUNE

Standing in the steady drizzle outside Foss High School, Sophak Khuth took a drag on his cigarette Wednesday evening and paused when asked about his friend, Samnang Kok.

“He was like a brother to me,” said 19-year-old Khuth, a Tacoma native who lives in Redmond.

Khuth had known Kok, a 17-year-old junior shot and killed inside the school hours earlier, since the two were little boys.

He was one of several dozen people who gathered in the school’s parking lot for a candlelight vigil to remember Kok. They stood under a small white tent set up to shelter them from the chilly rain.

Dan Johnson, lead pastor at the nondenominational Next Church, said his church arranged the vigil to “create a safe spot” after the fatal shooting. Local businesses donated cookies and a generator to power a few lights.

“The teachers can teach, but somebody’s got to give (the students) a hug,” Johnson said.

Vanessa Salazar said she went to the vigil because Kok was a fellow student in her algebra class.

“He made people laugh,” said Salazar, a 14-year-old freshman.

Though she said she was saddened by the shooting, Salazar said she felt safer returning today to school because “the person who shot him is not going to come.”

Two hours after the shooting, police arrested a suspect, 18-year-old Douglas S. Chanthabouly. He was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder and will be arraigned today.

Paul Sand: 253-597-8364; paul.sand@thenewstribune.com

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