Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

Tenth Tacoma Homicide of 2014: Michael Ward Jr.

Screenshot_2014-09-07-19-10-36-1It was hot last Saturday night in Tacoma. Long after the sun went down, it was still 80 degrees on one of the last days of summer. Sometime around 4am, police arrived at South 39th and Yakima Avenue responding to reports of gunfire and found the body of 32-year-old Michael Ward Jr. He’d been shot.

Police canvassed the area and roused an afterhours place run by a local motorcycle club. As of this writing, no suspects or witnesses have been located.

This is the third Tacoma homicide near an afterhours party since 2011. And the second homicide on the South Side of Tacoma in the last nine days. It’s also Tacoma’s tenth homicide this year.

Unfortunately there isn’t much information about Michael that I could find. And this is why I have the comments section for this site. It is reserved for those who knew Michael and want to share memories of him.

Police are asking for anyone who saw anything or knows anything about this shooting to contact them at 253-798-4721.

My thoughts go out to his friends and family. I’m sorry for your loss.

- Jack Cameron

UPDATE: Michael’s family is collecting funds for his funeral services. If you would like to donate, here’s the link http://www.gofundme.com/e82k6w

Eighth Tacoma Homicide of 2014 Kevin Young

kevinyoungLast Thursday morning, a woman called 911 from a room at the King Oscar Hotel off of South 72nd and Hosmer. Her boyfriend had been shot with a shotgun. The wound was in his gut. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Later that afternoon he died from his wounds. His name was Kevin Young. He was 41 years old.

In the days that followed, two men and a woman have been arrested for his murder. Court documents show that an acquaintance of Kevin’s girlfriend was hanging out with them. They went to a nearby ATM where Kevin got out $30. Shortly after that the woman met with two men outside. One of the men wore a mask and had a shotgun. They entered the room. Kevin handed over the money and the man in the mask shot him. The entire robbery took less than twenty seconds.

While the arrests will hopefully get his friends and family justice, the pain of the loss of Kevin remains.

Kevin Young is the eighth Tacoma homicide victim this year. He had at one point worked for a fishing company in Alaska and more recently for Commercial Metals Company. He was the father of two.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Kevin who want to share stories and tell us about him and his life.

- Jack Cameron

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2014 Renee Brooks

reneebrooksIt was between five and six in the morning on Thursday July 3rd. A man walked into his apartment in the 1100 block of Highlands Parkway just off of Pearl Street. Witnesses heard two or three shots. And then he left.

The next day on the Fourth of July, a friend and coworker of 28-year-old Renee Brooks’ stopped by that apartment. They had become concerned about her whereabouts and came to check on her.  The friend found Renee’s body and called the police.

Renee’s death had been caused by multiple gun shots. Renee’s husband would be found and arrested on Tacoma’s South Side near South 49th Street on Saturday.

Renee worked at Subway and had previously worked at the Tacoma Rescue Mission. Renee, her husband and 3-year-old daughter had only moved into that apartment a few weeks ago. Neighbors say there were frequent fights.

Renee has become the seventh Tacoma homicide this year and the sixth Tacoma homicide this year that involved domestic violence. When the person responsible for the murder is a romantic partner, a parent, or child of the victim a homicide becomes an even worse tragedy for the family. Love ones are shocked and torn up by such a stunning event. Often it’s nearly impossible to reconcile the violent actions with the loved ones they once knew.

If you or someone you know is involved in a situation or relationship that is abusive or violent, I urge you to look into some of the resources at the link below. I’d rather not have to write an article like this about you.
http://www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/one.aspx?objectId=20334

As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of Renee Brooks. Please share your thoughts and memories of Renee with us. Tell us about her life and what Tacoma has lost with her death.

-          Jack Cameron

Sixth Tacoma Homicide of 2014 Terrence Green

terrencegreenOn June 13th, 3-year-old Terrence Green was brought in to a local urgent care center by his father. He was lethargic and vomiting. A nurse advised him to take the child to the Emergency Room. His father chose not to do that. On Saturday, eight days later Terrance was brought to the hospital. He was unconscious. Doctors would soon find multiple injuries on his chest and head including a skull fracture. They would perform CPR a dozen times over the course of the next two days before finally taking Terrance off life support on Monday.

Terrence’s parents did not live together. Terrence had spent most of the last month with his father. He shared a bed with his father. According to his mother, Terrance had repeatedly wet the bed. His father has been arrested and charged with Terrance’s death.

Any time a life is taken from our city, it’s a tragedy. But it’s especially tragic when that life is so short lived. Terrence Green was only three-years-old. We will never really know what we’ve lost with his death.

The grief of the friends and family of Terrence is something I can’t imagine. My condolences to them all. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the victim or their family and want to post remembrances.

-          Jack Cameron

Tacoma Homicide FAQ

policelineI’ve been writing about homicides in Tacoma since 2006. Over the years I’ve received dozens of emails from the families and friends of victims. These emails are what I look at whenever I feel like I should stop. They remind me that what I write sometimes is exactly the thing a grieving person wants to see. If I can be even a small amount of comfort, then I don’t see how I can morally stop writing about these times when people are taken from our city.

I also receive emails and am asked questions in person about how I go about writing these things and why I write about one thing and not another. I’m going to try to tackle all of these frequently asked questions in this post. Here goes:

How Do You Get The Information About Tacoma Homicides?

Almost every piece of information I post about Tacoma homicides is found online through a combination of news reports, my own research, and a handful of local contacts.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to get information on how homicide victims died than it is to get information on how they lived. I do my best to include details about the person who was killed whenever possible, but I more than anything I rely on the friends and family of the victims to help share who we’ve lost from our cities. In some circumstances, I’ve welcomed friends and families to do guest posts about their loved ones.

Why Don’t You Write About Vehicular Homicides?

Most police departments treat these differently than regular homicides. In fact up until recently you perpetrators of vehicular homicide only received a third of the sentence they might have received if they’d shot the victim. But the reason I don’t cover them is simply that they’re difficult to cover. Often charges aren’t brought until long after the incident and if I covered every vehicular death then I might as well start covering every unnatural death and that’s beyond the scope of what I want to accomplish here.

Why Don’t You Write About Suicides?

I want to write about suicides. There are far more suicides in Tacoma than homicides. But they’re rarely reported to the media and so getting any relevant information is difficult. Some suicides make the news and others don’t and I’d rather cover no suicides than just some of them.

Why Didn’t You Cover That Homicide in University Place/Fife/Parkland/Lakewood/Spanaway/Etc?

When I started TacomaStories.com I decided that as much as possible I’d confine my posts to things about the City of Tacoma because if I included surrounding areas I’m not sure where I’d stop. Do I include Federal Way? If so, do I also include SeaTac? Where does it end?  I would more than welcome someone else picking up the torch for Lakewood or other local cities and starting LakewoodStories.com or something.

What’s The Worst Thing That’s Come Out of Writing About Tacoma Homicides?

There have been a couple of death threats and an incident that I had to report to the police before it became something violent, but thankfully nothing ever came of any of it. It was also difficult to write about a former classmate of mine who was shot and killed.

So…Why Do You Do It?

I’d started out writing about Tacoma’s homicides to prove a point about the city and its reputation. It’s a far safer city than it was in the 1990s. In fact it’s so safe that I can write about every Tacoma homicide and still do other things. Not a possibility in a place like Chicago. In fact even Seattle has 3-4 homicides a month vs. Tacoma’s one homicide a month sometimes.

However, as I stated at the beginning of this, the reason I keep writing about Tacoma homicides is that the families and friends of the victims appreciate it. I’ve heard from people sometimes years after their loved one’s death. In some cases my article is the only online evidence of what happened.

That’s about it for now. If you have any other questions for me, let me know.

-          Jack Cameron

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2014 Richard Salzman

ME_arrivesLast Friday night 49-year-old Richard Salzman had an argument with his wife over the phone. His wife chose to stay at a family member’s house. The next morning his wife returned home in the 1900 Block of S. Mason Ave. and found no sign of her husband. Their 16-year-old-son said he’d left the night before on his bike. At some point on Saturday when there was still no sign of him, his wife reported him missing to the Tacoma Police Department. On Tuesday when Richard’s wife started talking about organizing a search party her son told her what happened after her phone call on Friday.  He told her that heard their argument and confronted his father. He said that his father shoved him. His son then hit him in the head with a cane killing him. He then put Richard’s body along with a cut up bicycle into the compost bin behind the house. His mother had him call the police and tell them what happened. We’ll likely never know for certain what exactly happened in Richard Salzman’s final moments. What’s clear is that a domestic dispute got physical and now a husband and father is dead. This is Tacoma’s fifth homicide this year. Neighbors say they’re shocked by what happened as well they should be. Unfortunately domestic disputes can become deadly all too quickly. As always, the comments section is reserved for those friends and family who knew Richard and want to share anything about him or just share your condolences. –          Jack Cameron

Third and Fourth Tacoma Homicides of 2014 Denyse Marshall and AJ Geissler

tacoma_houseLast Thursday at a house on South 19th and L Street in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood there was a loud argument that had turned violent. A 37-year-old man was convinced that a coworker and roommate was romantically involved with his live-in girlfriend. He beat the roommate with his fists and a chair and also assaulted his girlfriend. Police arrived and found a 25-year-old man named AJ Geissler bloodied and injured. They arrested the 37-year-old and took him to jail.

The man they arrested was no stranger to the law. In the last two years alone he’d been arrested four times for domestic violence though only charged in one of those cases. Before that, his ex-wife had gotten two restraining orders on him in 2008 and 2010. In 2012 another roommate got a restraining order against him after an assault.

The Tacoma Municipal Court had not finished reviewing the case and since he had not been charged, he was released from jail on Friday.

Hours after being released from jail, the man returned to the house on Friday and assaulted three individuals at the house. He killed AJ Geissler, the man he’d assaulted the night before. He also killed 59-year-old Denyse Marshall, his girlfriend’s aunt who was staying at the house while she went through a divorce. He also wounded a third person.

Denyse and Joseph are the third and fourth homicides Tacoma has had this year. This is as low as the homicide rate has been at this point in the year since I started writing about Tacoma’s homicides. Of course this does not lessen the impact by family and friends devastated by the loss of these two individuals.

Their killer has been arrested. Unfortunately no amount of justice is going to bring any real solace to the grieving friends and family of the victims. Sudden losses like this are catastrophic. Denyse Marshall and AJ Geissler were citizens of Tacoma deserving of a full life that was cut short. What we can do now is remember Denyse and Joseph and share any memories we have of them.

The comments section is reserved for friends and families of the victims.  I moderate and approve all comments before they appear. I am sorry for your loss.
– Jack Cameron