On the second floor of a building just off of Center Street, the After Party was getting intense in the early hours of Saturday morning. This wasn’t just a guy inviting people back to his place for a few drinks. This place had bouncers. There were even guys with flashlights to tell you where to park when it got busy. The Friday night after party was far from the first one to happen here.
Seventeen year old Billy Shirley arrived there just before 5:00am. He wasn’t there to party. He was there to check on someone. Unconfirmed reports say he was there to pick up his mother. Billy wasn’t the late night after party type. Last April he was profiled in The News Tribune as part of a volunteer group called ‘Peace Out’. What happened next is still under investigation. There was an argument between Billy and someone else. Some witnesses say there Billy became involved in a brawl. What’s clear is that as Billy was leaving he was shot at least twice in the back. When the paramedics arrived, they were unable to revive him. As the sun rose on the City of Tacoma, Billy Shirley III became its ninth homicide victim for 2011.
Tacoma had managed to go most of the summer without a homicide. Our last one was in June. There was a recent shooting near Tacoma General Hospital almost a week ago, but the victim was uncooperative and his wounds were not life threatening.
Billy was about to begin his senior year at Curtis High School. From his involvement in Peace Out and various comments online, it sounds like he was a good kid who was interested in giving back to the community. It’s an unfortunate tragedy in the City of Destiny. He will not be forgotten.
After Parties are nothing new in Tacoma. Neither are illegal night clubs. One could argue that since this place had been having parties for months without a major incident that it wasn’t a big deal. However, one could just as easily argue that something like this was bound to happen in a place like that. That area of Center Street is mostly an industrial area. They likely didn’t get too many noise complaints regardless of how loud they were.
With the death of Billy Shirley, it’s safe to say that the After Party is over. At least in that location. The Tacoma Police Department continue to investigate and would like to talk to anyone who left the party before the police arrived.
- Jack Cameron
Peace Out: http://www.mypeaceout.org/
TNT’s Profile of Billy Shirley: http://bit.ly/nU6UCr