Faculty member Troy Wolff dies in Seattle stabbing

Troy Wolff, beloved and respected faculty member at Shoreline Community College, has died after being stabbed in an apparently random attack late Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 while walking in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle.

Wolff and his partner, Kristin Ito, were walking in the area after attending a Sounders professional soccer game at Century Link Field, according to Seattle Police and family. Ito was confronted by a man carrying a small knife who began stabbing her. When Wolff intervened, the man turned and began stabbing him. Fire department medics responded to the scene and transported both victims to Harborview Medical Center. According to Wolff’s family, he died early Saturday morning, Sept. 14.

A Harborview official said Saturday afternoon that Ito was in stable condition. A suspect, a 44-year-old man, was arrested at the scene and has since been booked into the King County Jail for investigation of homicide, according to police.

“This is an unbelievably tragic loss,” said Interim President Daryl Campbell. “Troy was loved by students, loved by his fellow faculty members, loved by all who knew him.”

Wolff was chair of the English Department and Kathie Hunt, Interim Dean of Humanities, said the loss will always be felt.

“A college is like a quilt, all the patches fitting together,” Hunt said. “Troy was a very big piece of our quilt. Eventually, we’ll figure out a way to mend it, but it will never be the same.”

Wolff, 46, started as part-time instructor at Shoreline in 1996 and became a full-time professor in 2001.  During that time, he taught abroad in Costa Rica, Spain, Greece, and Turkey. Besides teaching, he is the author of Seattle and King County: Gateway to the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle: The Emerald City.

At the time of the attack, SWAT and gang-unit officers arrived on scene first and contacted the suspect, who was standing near the victims still holding the knife, according to a police report.  The suspect dropped the knife and arrested without further incident.  Officers recovered a knife and placed it into evidence.

Police say they believe the suspect is a stranger to Wolff and Ito and that the attacks were unprovoked.  While the investigation is continuing, police say there are indications that the suspect was operating at a diminished mental capacity.

Shoreline was already coping with the sudden and tragic death of another faculty member. Erin Walker died July 25, 2013 in a car accident near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A native of Idaho, a memorial service intended for Walker’s Seattle-area friends and co-workers was scheduled for 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15, at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, 3001 24th Ave. S., Seattle.

“We are planning on a moment of silence for Erin at our fall convocation for employees this coming week and we’re working with the campus to plan a memorial for her,” Campbell said. “And now tragedy strikes again. I know our people are strong, dedicated and will come together for support, but this is awfully difficult for everyone.”

Wolff’s family members said Saturday that it was too soon to announce any service details.


  1. Bret Burkholder says:

    So tragic and so unnecessary. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you all my colleagues and the family of Mr. Wolff. May the light and love that was his presence shine forever among the Shoreline community.

    Bret Burkholder
    Faculty Counselor/Professor
    Pierce College

  2. Norma Goldstein says:

    Troy’s loss impacts so many people who knew him well. Our grief is deep with the knowledge that he will no longer be at the college with students who adored him and colleagues and administrators who respected him. Time is the only healing agent. Troy will forever remain a hero in my eyes. My sincerest condolences to the college community for his loss. I grieve with you and hope time eases your shock and sorrow.

  3. Kevin Yen says:

    I never really liked reading, especially literature written in English. That all changed in 2002 when I took Professor Wolff’s Latin American Literature in Translation class. He taught with passion, excitement, unbiased opinion and respect for the authors and for his own students. Professor Wolff will forever be missed.

    Spring 2005 ENG 234W

  4. Annie Ximei Sun says:

    Can not believe what happened! Troy was a soooooooo nice and knowlegable professor! He was one of the best professors in SCC. He loved every student and teached well. As an Asian student, I felt so warmth from his love and respect even though my English was poor. He turned dry Engligh 101,102 classes to most fun moments. I couldn’t go to UW without his help. It’s a huge lost for SCC. Love him for ever! God bless him in heaven!

  5. Hailu Bankashe says:

    I feel so sad, heart broken to hear the untimely death of my former professor. He was so humble & respectful to his students. His class was so interesting & entertaining….What a loss! RIP Professor Troy Wolff.

  6. Donna Miller-Parker says:

    Troy leaves behind a real legacy. I saw him giving his all to his students, the department, and the college. His senseless death is certainly a cause for terrible grief, but his life a cause for celebration.
    Donna Miller-Parker, South Seattle CC

  7. Yonathan Asmu says:

    What a shock. I want to say really quick that I took his Latin American Culture class. I payed my own way at SCC. Although that quarter, i didn’t have enough for his class. He sat down and spoke to me about how important an education was; and that he allowed me to attend the class without paying. He printed up every assignment / documents for me that quarter (because i wasn’t able to access his class via blackboard). He was so dedicated to ensuring progress within his students. I hated reading, i loathed it, but Wolff made it exciting and fun. Wolff was a good friend of mine and many many more. I will miss him so much. I hope whomever did this is found and thrown to the wolves.

    Mr. Wolff you will always be remembered and missed dearly.

  8. Ursula says:

    This breaks my heart. I had him for English 102 AND 103 and was one of the best teachers I ever had. I just was talking about him about 3 weeks ago and how that class has made me a better write. What a beautiful human being he was. I will think of his girlfriend and pray for her! RIP troy

  9. Marty Olsen says:

    I am shocked and deeply saddened by Troy’s tragic, senseless, and heroic death. Troy was such a wonderful warm human being and he was so committed to his students and so very sensitive to the needs and circumstances of each of his students.

    On my daughters first day of school at Shoreline she reported that she had an absolutely wonderful English teacher. When I asked who this terrific instructor was she replied “Troy Wolf.” She called me from out of town today to express her shock and sadness at his loss.

    Troy’s wonderful warm smile lifted the sprits of everyone he came in contact with. His death is such a tremendous loss to the world. His good deeds and his wonderful spirit will live on in his students,friends,family and all who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with Troy’s family and all who knew and loved Troy.
    Troy may you rest in peace

  10. Aaron Marshall says:

    I am stunned to learn of Troy’s death. I’ll always remember him as a caring, generous individual, always ready with a witty comment and a cup of coffee in hand. I so enjoyed his class and am thankful that I got to be his student! He was the real deal when it came to academic English, and he displayed that masterfully every day of the quarter! RIP, Troy!

    -Aaron Marshall (2010 graduate)

  11. Rachael says:

    This is very sad. I had Troy for a few classes these last 2 years and we alway had a great time talking. He was a fantastic teacher and a very personable man. A huge loss for SCC.

  12. Madiha Mukhtar says:

    I am really shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic happening. I took Troy for English 101, and 102, and I remember how much I looked forward to his classes. He was an amazingly brilliant man. He had such wit and such a great sense of humor. I have been around the globe and have taken several english classes, but Troy left such a great impression and mark in my life. May God bless his soul.. Amen

  13. shahin says:

    I never took any courses with him, but from the pictures I guess I saw him once. It was one of the workshops of writing center in last spring quarter and he was the instructor. It took just 1 hour and that was enough for me to understand how caring he was. He asked me my name and at the end of workshop he called me by name and thanked for sharing my idea.
    Don’t forget you. Rip..

  14. Rachael Sylte says:

    I would like to share my thoughts and memories of Troy with his family. Does anyone know if there is a FB page, PO box, website, or any other means to do that?

    • Chris Norris says:

      Rachael and all who knew Troy. Please go to the FB Group “Friends of Troy Wolff” to share your thoughts and memories of Troy with his family. He had an incredible impact on many many people and the stories being shared are powerful!

  15. Janice Allan says:

    I was so stunned to learn of this senseless act of violence. I send my deepest sympathies to all of the staff at SCC, who work so hard to teach the students. I send my sympathies to the students, who mourn this loss, of someone who has enriched their lives.

  16. Anne Pharr says:

    Troy and I were classmates at Baylor, both during our undergraduate and graduate studies, and we also worked together at Camp Ozark. I have such fond memories of my time with him. Just a few years back, I was hired to teach at a community college here in Tennessee, and I contacted Troy to get tips on managing the grading load. He responded with kindness, helpful suggestions, and his characteristic good humor.

    Needless to say, the news of his death is devastating for us all, and my family’s prayers are with his family, loved ones, students, and colleagues.

    Anne Pharr
    Pellissippi State Community College
    Knoxville, TN

  17. Andrew says:

    he was a great guy i knew him from doing work on his apt
    i enjoyed knowing & him my prayers go out to his family may Jesus peace be with you I also pray for the other person involved i hope she is doing well

  18. Sherry says:

    It’s so sad when a teacher of such heart and influence is lost. We are all poorer for it. God bless all who knew him, and especially Ms. Ito. Best wishes for healing and comfort to you in this time of sorrow.

    Sherry Tuinstra-Rosales
    ESL Instructor
    North Seattle Community College

  19. Avi Rana says:

    I am so sorry for Mr. Wolff’s traggic loss.. Never ever thought something like this would ever happen to such a loving and caring person.. You were truly amazing as a teacher and more as a person.. You will always be remembered.. I only took one class with Mr. Wolff and that one class alone left so many remarkable memories

  20. Saeed Mohamed says:

    This is an extreme shock to all of us who had the PLEASURE AND THE HONOR to learn from this man. I am truly sorry for the loss of Dr. Wolff his impact on my english 101 and 102 courses were very enriching. He was generous, kind and had a passion to teach. I remember playing basketball with him during my downtime at SCC. I can only say there are few professors who enjoy playing basketball with their students.

    Man is born with his hands clenched, but his are open in death, because on entering the world he desires to grasp everything, but on leaving, he takes nothing away. – The Talmud

  21. Don Coupez says:

    This terrible loss had deeply affected me. I attended Troy’s English class in my first year at Shoreline and loved it. Troy was an incredible teacher and a wonderful person. I’m shocked at his senseless death. My deepest sympathy for Troy’s family. I pray Kristin Ito has a quick recovery.

  22. Sally says:

    People had been telling me about this tragedy for the past few days, but I only discovered this morning that it was Troy. The grief cannot be overstated. He was a terrific professor and a truly great man, and he will be missed by so many. My love of writing is deeply interwoven with the attention and devotion of people in my life like Professor Wolff, and I will be forever indebted to him. Praying for Ms. Ito and the Wolff family.

    -Sally (2007-2010 alum)

  23. Cheryl says:

    I did not know this professor nor any students. However, the comments left by former students break my heart. It’s so hard to find people that evoke passion for learning and it sounds like he was the man. May his family and friends find comfort in knowing that he did not only do that, but perhaps inspired them to further their education. Rest in peace Troy.

  24. Meagan says:

    I did not have the privilege of knowing Troy either, but just from the little I have learned of him I know the world is now a poorer place. I will remember him, and try to follow his example of generosity, kindness, and selflessness.
    My deepest condolences to his family, colleagues, students, and all whose lives he touched.

  25. Jackie Lundgren says:

    What a great loss to the world. He was an amazing teacher as well as a person. I am deeply saddened by this. He is one in a million and has touched my life as a teacher that believed in me. I would not be the person I am today without him. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

  26. Hernan says:

    I attended Troys English 100 class in the fall of 96 when he had just moved up here from Utah. Troy was incredibly smart and laid back. He really wanted to see his students succeed. You will be missed Troy, Rest in Peace.

  27. Joan Whiting says:

    I am so very sorry to hear about Troy. I send my love, my prayers, and heart felt condolences. I am well aware of the heartache associated with losing a son and sk for lord to bless you. Joan

  28. Pam Wolff says:

    Thank you Shoreline for the bench you dedicated in memory of Troy. I can see him sitting there with his cup of coffee and chatting with a student or colleague.