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We Are Capitol Hill

When Stephen Elliott was murdered in an Alfalfa's parking lot last year, it shocked neighbors right down to the bone. Down to the bone, that is, for about 72 hours.

Most likely, Priest says, the shooter targeted the Alfalfa's parking lot for a robbery. "There's people with money in that parking lot, they're not paying attention -- it's a no-brainer." In a lot usually dotted with Mercedes and Jaguars, Elliott became an attractive victim since he was distracted: He had two bags of groceries in his hands, he was talking with his child and, Priest says, "Elliott had his wallet in his hands."

But the gunman never got Elliott's wallet. "When a murder like this takes place," Priest says, "with no rhyme or reason, you tend to believe it was accidental." And that's been difficult for Elliott's friends to accept.

Suvanjieff: "With that much money sitting there, it had to be in someone's head. Someone had something to gain by Elliott being killed."

The victim's family: Stephen Elliott's daughter, Isabel, with her mother, E.J. Yodder.
The victim's family: Stephen Elliott's daughter, Isabel, with her mother, E.J. Yodder.
Someone to talk to: Elliott and Isabel having high tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Someone to talk to: Elliott and Isabel having high tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Powers: "Elliott's death was a gang initiation. It was random, yet it was calculated."

Pinna: "I think it would have been too hard to hide if he was involved in something else. I heard the insinuation that somehow this company was involved, but I don't think anybody at this company was offended. People are going to say what they are going say."

E.J.: "I'm not comfortable with random. I'm okay with it, but I'm not comfortable. But I believe it's the truth."

One friend speculates that Elliott could have had himself killed: "He could be that miserable sometimes."

E.J.: "Steve was truly, truly, very unhappy on this earth. He was a very smart man who didn't know how to fit in here. Maybe his own karma had something to do with it? I don't know.

"But not everyone would agree with that."


Last Monday, the one-year anniversary of Elliott's death, passed without any notice from the reporters who had so eagerly hounded Elliott's family when he was killed. Around 5:30 p.m., E.J., Isabel, Powers and two other friends stood in the Alfalfa's parking lot with a few mementos: some cards from Elliott, a book, some drawings of the murder Isabel had made in therapy sessions.

One of the friends was the shopper who had picked up Isabel after Elliott was shot; she'd arrived at the parking lot unaware of any planned observance.

They burned the cards and drawings in an albacore seashell, and Isabel let go of two balloons. When the ballons got tangled in a web of tree branches across the street," she said, "Daddy will have to come get them."

Every man who walked out of the store with bags in his hands, oblivious of his surroundings, was a potential Elliott.

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