‘Nicest person I ever met’ — friends, customers remember slain Kent store manager

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KENT — One by one they brought flowers to the little corner outside the Shell station in Kent.

“I don’t even know what to say, it’s just a big loss,” said Abraham, who once worked in the store. He called the manager, Dave Christianson “a great boss, and a great friend and I’m pretty sure everyone is going to miss him.”

Christianson and another employee were gunned down Wednesday morning after an altercation with the driver of a black Cadillac. Police say that driver was Leland Russell, 29, of Burien.  Witnesses said Russell’s friend/passenger got into an argument with store employees over how the car was parked.

Russell allegedly told police racial slurs were used against him and his friend, and he felt disrespected, so he went back to his car, got his gun, and opened fire.

The shots killed Christianson and a store clerk. That clerk’s name is being withheld until next of kin are notified.

Christianson had worked at the store for 14 years. He had two grown daughters and was looking forward to a vacation to Hawaii in the next few weeks.

"He was one of the nicest people I ever met," said Jeanette Olsen, who, like many customers, said they often stopped in, not for coffee or gas, but to chat with Christianson, who always seemed to have a smile on his face.

Ariff Gulamami, who owns the Shell station, said his manager was one in a million.

"He became a good friend, part of the family."

Gulamami said his employees are trained in how to handle confrontations and unruly customers, but said what happened at his store Wednesday morning could have happened anywhere.

"It wasn't about gas, it wasn't about convenience. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time. A senseless tragedy."


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