Friends: Woman had intense color phobia before fatal shootings

Friends: Woman had intense color phobia before fatal shootings

Friends and family members leave gifts at a small shrine set up for the victims of the West Seattle shootings.

SEATTLE - Two days after a tragic shooting rampage, friends and family of the four victims gathered together for strength even as they opened up more about the mental illness that plagued the woman responsible for the killings.

Police say Sarouen Phan, 60, opened fire inside a West Seattle home on Thursday and fired at least 20 rounds, wounding her daughter and killing her son-in-law and two granddaughters before turning the gun on herself.

Family members earlier said Sarouen Phan had been struggling with schizophrenia and depression for several years but may not have been properly taking her medication for the past couple of months.

And on Saturday a family friend said Phan's illness took a turn about a year and a half ago, as she developed an intense phobia about colors and became more distant from her family.

"I know this family since I was, like, 12 years old in Cambodia," says family friend Sean Phuong.

Sean Phuong was with Sarouen Phan and her family in a refugee camp, then the Philippines. They've stayed close for decades - but he too saw mental illness overtaking her.

"She don't want any color. She don't want to see any color," Sean Phuong says.

On the day she erupted, family members say she walked downstairs and began firing a gun at her family members without uttering a word.

She was dressed all in white as she calmly pulled the trigger.

Sean Phuong says in the past few months Sarouen Phan would not talk to anyone who was dressed in dark clothing.

"No blue, no black. No anything. Only white. Then you can talk to her," he says. "But a friend or granddaughter, grandson, want to talk to her - you wear black like this, she don't want to talk. She don't want to see it."

Now Sean Phuong is sheltering and comforting the family in their extreme distress.

Phan's daughter, Thyda Harm, was shot three times and lost her husband and two daughters. Now she and her surviving three children are staying with Phuong.

"This morning, we take all the bandages, clean up again - two times. Like two times a day," he says.

The ordeal is still to raw for Thyda Harm to talk about - even with the people she knows best.

"We cannot say, like, your husband or your daughter died. We don't talk to her at all," Phuong explains.

Thyda Harm and her family are looking for a new place to live - but now the children have no father. And the family has no money.


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