The Wah Mee massacre was a gang-related multiple homicide that occurred on this day in 1983, in which Kwan Fai “Willie” Mak, Wai-Chiu “Tony” Ng, and Benjamin Ng gunned down fourteen people in the Wah Mee gambling club in Seattle. Thirteen of their victims lost their lives, but one survived to testify against the three in the high-profile trial. It remains the deadliest mass murder in Washington state history.
The Wah Mee club operated illegally in a basement space on Maynard Alley South, just south of South King Street in Seattle’s Chinatown. The club’s regulars included many wealthy restaurant owners, several of whom were among the victims. Security at the club was based in part on a system of passing through multiple successive doors, which had been used in similar Chinatown gambling dens for generations, and had usually been quite effective. Mak and his accomplices defeated the system only because they were known and trusted by the people at the club. Their presumed intent was to leave no witnesses, since club patrons could have readily identified them—as the one survivor, Wai Y. Chin, actually did.