The East Side of Tacoma has never been a nice part of town. Lately though it seems to be getting worse. The latest round of violence occurred on East 64th and McKinley. My aunt used to have a house about three blocks from there. I’d wander up to the convenience store on that corner when I was house-sitting, but never at night.
Kevin Carter wasn’t a gang member. He was a regular at Rudy’s Tavern on East 64th and McKinley. And after a fight broke out in the bar, early Saturday morning, he did what most people would do: He left. Unfortunately the loser of the fight also left and got a .22 rifle. He fired a handful of shots at a group of people outside the tavern then got in a Blazer with two others and drove off. Kevin Carter was in that group. Moments later, the Blazer came back and the same shooter fired more rounds, wounding three, including a bartender at Rudy’s and killing Kevin Carter, 34.
Police have arrested all three people who were in the Blazer inlcuding the shooter.
The nearby community is getting concerned about the downturn their neighborhood is taking. Local businesses are talking about packing up and going elsewhere. This will only destroy the neighborhood further. If you live in the area, please continue to frequent your local businesses. If you live nearby, maybe stop in. If you’re wondering what you can do, you can show the criminal element that you’re unafraid by having lunch in local diners and buying merchandise from local stores.
It’s unfortunate that a shooting of this magnitude is what it takes to get the attention of the media and possibly the police. Police have stepped up patrols on the East Side in recent months including the use of the Anti-Gang Task Force which is still under-funded.
The Tacoma police department, like most police departments is mostly reactionary. They throw money and manpower wherever the last bad thing happened. What is needed in Tacoma and so many other places is community policing. Community policing means having two or three officers who patrol the same area every night and day all over the city. Officers who not only know the neighborhood, but who are known in the neighborhood. How much safer would local residents and businesses on the East Side of Tacoma feel if they knew that not only could they call the police, but they could call Officer Smith?
Tacoma’s East Side has always been a bit worse than Tacoma’s South Side. I grew up on the South Side and my parents never liked it when I’d visit my East Side friends. The one and only time I was mugged it was on the East Side. It’d be easy to categorize the whole area as a crime-infested neighborhood where no one would want to live. But that’s not the truth. The truth is that Tacoma’s East Side is full of friendly, good people who only want what the rest of us want; to live happily and in peace and feel safe in our homes.
While crime is rampant on the East Side, so is development. New houses and communities are being built in areas that were once the worst in Tacoma. I’m hoping these new residents will branch out and help revitalize this community and not isolate themselves away from the rest of Tacoma’s East Side. They need the new residents’ help as much as they need the police.
For more on the East Side of Tacoma, check out ENACT at their website:
As always, anyone who knew the victim, Kevin Carter and wants to post anything about him, please feel free to post it in the comments below.