Shooting victim remembered for ‘generous spirit’

LAKE STEVENS — The final moments of Molly Conley’s short life were spent with friends.

The Seattle teen was visiting in Lake Stevens when she was killed late Saturday night in what police are describing as a drive-by shooting. The honor roll student turned 15 on Friday.

Autopsy results are pending. No arrests have been made.

Her family shared memories Monday afternoon in a written statement.

“We loved Molly so very much,” her mother, Susan Arksey, said. “She was a great girl, she loved her family, her friends, her school and she loved life. She loved her sister, her brother and her parents.”

“… She had a generous spirit,” Arksey added.

An example is the organization called “Mother’s Helper,” which Molly and her mom started. It helps mothers with babies who have just arrived in domestic violence shelters in Seattle. Molly came up with the name of the organization, which provides diapers, formula and clothing for babies, her family said.

Molly was the youngest of three children. Her older brother, Johnny, is a sophomore at Bishop Blanchet High School, a Catholic school in north Seattle. That’s where Molly was finishing her freshman year.

Detectives continued their investigation Monday. They had not released a vehicle description as of Monday evening and said there would be nothing more to report for the day.

“At this point, we just can’t tell if it was random or not,” Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. “We just don’t know.”

Although the shooting occurred in Lake Stevens city limits, the case was turned over to detectives from the sheriff’s office Major Crimes Unit who specialize in homicide investigations. They were called to the scene shortly after the shooting to assist.

One aspect of the case is determining whether Molly’s killing was connected to other gunfire in that same part of the county late Saturday and early Sunday.

Lake Stevens police reported receiving the call about Molly’s shooting at 11:18 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of S. Lake Stevens Road and S. Davies Road.

Ireton said that there were two other shots-fired calls that came in after the fatal shooting. One was reported around 12:45 a.m. near the 15000 block of 61st Street NE, northeast of the fatal shooting. The other occurred around 2:30 a.m. near the 5400 block of 105th Street NE in north Marysville.

“Whether these incidents were related to the tragic shooting earlier that night in Lake Stevens is unknown at this time,” she said.

Police in Marysville also received a report of shots being fired at a home and two cars in the 10500 block of 56th Drive NE around 2 a.m. Sunday, Marysville Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said. No one was injured.

Neighbors reported that a small passenger car might be involved, Lamoureux said.

“It’s still early in the investigation,” Lamoureux said. “We are not able to say if it’s related to any of the other incidents around the county, but we are certainly looking at that possibility.”

Molly’s high school classmates grieved her death Monday morning. The student body gathered in a community prayer service in the gym. Extra counselors and clergy were brought in.

“We do feel it is important to make professional support available while still maintaining the rhythm and structure of the school day,” school president Antonio DeSapio wrote in a letter to parents.

Several of Molly’s classmates were with her when the shooting occurred, DeSapio said.

Police and deputies had to juggle the need to protect the crime scene and get witness statements with trying to soothe the anxiety of parents who converged on the south Lake Stevens neighborhood after learning of the shooting.

There are many people for detectives to interview. Police gathered the names of more than a dozen children and teens who were nearby when the girl was shot.

On Monday, there was little physical reminder that a tragedy had taken place. A purple balloon tied to a vase holding flowers was the lone landmark at midday.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 4,000 people had joined a Facebook page called “RIP Molly Conley.”

Detectives are asking people with information about the case to call the sheriff’s office tip line at 425-388-3845.

In his letter to parents Monday, DeSapio said the school would continue to offer its support.

“We will walk with you every step of the way as we grieve Molly’s loss and celebrate her vibrant spirit,” he wrote.

Rikki King contributed to this story.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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