Category Archives: Tacoma Crime

Twelfth Tacoma Homicide of 2015 Phillip Ryan Jr.


Last Saturday afternoon at around 1pm 19-year-old Phillip Ryan Jr. was on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. He was less than a block from where Steven Speakman had been shot four days earlier near S. 10th and MLK when a car pulled up and shot Phillip. Emergency responders arrived and transported Philip to a nearby hospital where he died shortly after arriving.

Phillip is Tacoma’s 12th homicide this year. He is the third young man shot and killed in Tacoma in less than a week. This is the third shooting within four blocks of each other. And this is the fifth shooting in Tacoma in the last twelve days with a sixth one happening last night on S. 45th and Union where another young man was shot in the leg.

If this seems like an excessive amount of violence for Tacoma, it is. I’ve been talking about Tacoma homicides since 2006 and the last time I remember this much violence in so short a time it was the mid-1990s.

I call Tacoma the biggest small town in the world because everyone seems to know everyone. So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that my teenage son knew Philip. They both attended Stadium together. A few years ago I even met the young man.

My son said he was funny. And his friends who also knew him are in shock at his sudden murder. Last night there was a Peace Walk near the spot where Elijah Crawford was killed and his friend was shot. Tonight (Sunday) at 5:30pm there’s going to be a gathering at Peoples Park near the shootings of both Steven Speakman and Phillip Ryan.

As always, the comments section is moderated by me and reserved for those who knew Phillip Ryan and want to share thoughts or memories.

Jack Cameron

Eleventh Tacoma Homicide of 2015: Steven ‘Little Stevie’ Speakman


On Tuesday morning a man was walking back home after walking his wife to work in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. It was just after six in the morning. On South 10th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way he found 26-year-old Steven Speakman on the sidewalk. He’d been shot three times and had died from his wounds. The man tried to wave down a car for help, but it was a few minutes before anyone stopped.

Steven Speakman is the 11th Tacoma homicide of 2015 and the second to occur this week, with the shooting of Elijah Crawford happening just seven hours earlier on Tacoma’s East Side.

Steven was 26 years old but was intellectually disabled and functioned at the level of a ten year old. He lived only two blocks from where he was found and was well known and well liked in the neighborhood. People called him ‘Little Stevie’. A small memorial stands where Steven was found.

At this time police do not have a suspect or a motive. He was not robbed of anything but his life. Police are asking for anyone who might have information or been in the area around that time to contact them.

Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood is notorious for its high crime rate in the early 1990s, but this is actually the first homicide in Hilltop in over a year. What once was a neighborhood that people were rightly afraid to go into has become a much safer, more vibrant part of Tacoma.

As always, the comments section is moderated by me and reserved for those who want to share thoughts and memories of Little Stevie.

– Jack Cameron

Tenth Tacoma Homicide of 2015: Elijah Crawford


Last Monday night 18-year-old Elijah Crawford and two friends were sitting in a car in the 1800 block of East 44th Street a little after 11:30pm. Someone approached the car and opened fire. When police arrived minutes later, they found Elijah had been killed becoming the tenth Tacoma homicide this year. A 20-year-old friend was wounded and taken to a nearby hospital. The third friend was physically uninjured.

Elijah graduated from Lincoln High School earlier and married his high school sweetheart. He was a popular and fun loving student who liked wrestling and photography. It’s genuinely difficult to find a photo where he isn’t smiling. A former teacher of his learned of his death and wrote about Elijah and what Tacoma has lost with his passing. You can read it here. The News Tribune also has an excellent article on Elijah Crawford. Here’s the link for that.  (Read it now as their articles are unavailable online after 90 days without a subscription.)

This shooting was one of three within the space of a few hours in Tacoma during Monday night and Tuesday morning. Around 3:40am near North 13th and Lawrence Street a drunk driver fired ten shots at University of Puget Sound security guards thankfully hitting no one. Also around 6:15am this morning 26-year-old Steven Speakman was found with fatal gunshot wounds on S. 10th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This is an unusual amount of violence in such a short amount of time.

As always, the comments section is moderated by me and reserved for those who want to share thoughts, memories, and other remembrances of Elijah and his life that was all too short.

At the time of this writing, a suspect has not been arrested or identified.

There is a Peace Walk scheduled for tonight (Saturday November 7th) near where Elijah and his friend were shot. It starts at 5pm at the Family Investment Center Park at 1724 East 44th Street in Salishan.

-Jack Cameron

Sixth Tacoma Homicide of 2015: Sayvon Jordan Jr.


Early Saturday morning 15-month-old Sayvon Jordan Jr. was brought into Tacoma General Hospital by a his mother and a man. The man told hospital staff that the Sayvon had choked on a rock and he’d given the toddler the Heimlich maneuver. He claimed he’d possibly done it ‘too hard’. Unfortunately Sayvon was already dead when the toddler arrived. Hospital staff soon found evidence of long-term abuse and nothing that substantiated the man’s story. The following day the Medical Examiner ruled that his death was a homicide, the result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.

This is the sixth Tacoma homicide this year and the seventh Tacoma homicide since 2011 involving a child under three years of age. Typically when I write about homicides I try to do as much research as I can on who the person was in life. When it comes to deaths like these, the person didn’t even get to find out who they were and Tacoma is less than it could be because of the loss.

As is so often true with these situations, I simply don’t have a lot to write because the victim didn’t get to live long enough for there to be much to write about.

Sayvon’s mother is currently pregnant. The unborn child’s father is the man now being charged with the murder of Sayvon Jordan Jr. Sayvon’s own father is currently in prison.

– Jack Cameron

The Last Tacoma Homicide of 2014 Joshua Sullivan Jr.


I do my best to write about every homicide that happens in the city of Tacoma. Mostly I rely on media reports and a few other sources to confirm events or information. Occasionally there will be a homicide and almost no media coverage whatsoever. That was the case in the short life of Joshua Sullivan Jr.

Joshua Sullivan Jr. was born on May 16, 2013. Seven days later he was brought into Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. His injuries, mostly around his head concerned the staff there. They contacted the Tacoma Police Department.

After initially denying that they knew anything about their son’s injuries, Joshua’s father admitted to being ‘frustrated’ with the baby.

Sixteen months later, in September 2014 Joshua Sullivan Jr. died from his injuries. Since then the two other children in the home have been placed in foster care and the father has been put in prison. Today Pierce County prosecutors have charged his father with the homicide.

These are my least favorite homicides to write about. Newborns can be very difficult for some people to deal with. Washington State has a Safe Haven law. Anyone can drop off their newborn at a Hospital or a Fire Station safely and anonymously no questions asked and no judgments given. If you need help with a baby, please call the National Safe Haven Alliance at 1-866-510-BABY (1-866-510-2229).

My thoughts go out to the family of Joshua Sullivan, Jr.

– Jack Cameron

Public Shaming May Have Led to A Young Girl’s Suicide

A few days ago a 15 second video showed up online. It showed a young girl who appeared to be twelve or thirteen years old. She’s standing in a room looking at the phone camera. She appears to be afraid. The camera then shows the floor where there is a pile of long black hair. A taunting male voice says, “The consequences of getting messed up? Man, you lost all that beautiful hair. Was it worth it?” The girl stares at her hair on the floor. She very quietly says, “No.” “How many times did I warn you?” She almost inaudibly says, “Twice.” He then says, “Okay.” as if he has proved a point. The video ends.

A screenshot from the video her father took after cutting her hair as a punishment.

A screenshot from the video her father took after cutting her hair as a punishment.

Yesterday this same young girl got out of the passenger seat of her grandmother’s car on the South 48th Street overpass. She climbed over the railing and jumped, landing on a car. She’s since been transported to Harborview Medical Center where her condition is unknown. There are those who believe that public shaming is an acceptable form of parenting. As this incident clearly shows, it’s not. It’s a form of abuse and it has consequences. The victim in this incident is a minor and I have no intention of mentioning her or her family’s name. I’m also not going to share any more than the screenshot of the video as there’s really no reason anyone needs to see her face. I don’t have much interest in increasing the public shaming her father has already given her. I’m writing this article because all too often, suicides and suicide attempts are ignored. The News Tribune had one small article about it. The local TV sites have almost nothing.

We pretend suicide attempts don’t happen. Or we pretend that no outside factors contributed to a person’s choice to try to end their life. We need to stop that. We need to pay attention. We need to stop acting like there’s nothing we can do. Public shaming is a form of abuse. There are those who will say that it teaches a lesson. So does punching someone in the face. That doesn’t make it okay to do to your children. My thoughts are with this young girl. I hope that she gets the help she needs. I also hope her father gets the help he so clearly needs and that her family can heal from these traumatic events brought on by public shaming. Please do your best to remain civil in the comments section. I moderate all comments and will delete comments I feel are insulting, inflammatory, or otherwise non-conducive to civil dialog. I think we do need to talk about this and I think it’s important that we do so without attacking people.

If you or anyone you know needs to talk to someone about suicide, you can contact the national suicide hotline for free 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Jack Cameron

Update 05/31/15: I have heard from multiple sources that the young woman passed away at Harborview Medical Center this evening. My thoughts are with the family and friends of this young girl. I am sorry for your loss.

Update 06/02/15: After over 250 comments and another hundred or so that I deleted because were offensive or inflammatory, I’ve chosen to close the comments section after requests from multiple family members of the victims.

Update 06/06/15: This story that started as a little two paragraph article in the News Tribune is now being reported by Daily Kos, Jezebel, the New York Daily News and many others. This is thanks in no small part to the vocal readers here. Thank you for not letting this story go away. There has also been some new information worth sharing.

Tacoma Public School has issued a statement regarding rumors that the victim was not allowed to run for student office. They said that while it’s true she was unable to run for student office because her parents did not sign a permission slip, rumors that there was a public announcement that she couldn’t run are untrue. The statement also said that the principal was aware of the public shaming video and had contacted Child Protective Services when he learned of it.

According to Tacoma Police spokesperson Loretta Cool while the video was taken by the father, he was not the one to upload it online. It was leaked by a ‘third party’. The video was allegedly for her to keep to remind her of what she’d done as “part of the discipline process. So she would remember and not do it again.” according to Cool.

Update 06/09/15: My coverage of this story has come under scrutiny. Here’s my response.

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2015: Trey Tolbert


In the early evening of May 11th, a group of young people were hanging out in a parking lot  police in the 9200 block of South Hosmer Street. 17-year-old Jatarius Tolbert was on his way to get his girlfriend a Slushee. His friends called him Trey. A Dodge Charger drove by Trey and the group. It was known that Trey was having problems with someone who drove a similar car. A young man in the group pulled out a revolver and fired shots at the car. One of those shots hit Trey in the back. Police arrived soon after the shots. Medics were unable to save Trey and he became the fifth Tacoma homicide of 2015.

This is the second homicide in that area in less than a week though there is no indication that the two murders are connected in any way. A few weeks after Trey’s death another 17-year-old was arrested for his murder.

As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of Trey. Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories of him. No comments of hate or anger will be accepted. All comments are moderated and approved by me before they are posted.

Jack Cameron