Tag Archives: Tacoma Homicide

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

Keeping Tacoma

The streets of Tacoma are safer than they've been in years.

The streets of Tacoma are safer than they’ve been in years.

It’s been 94 days since there was a homicide in the city of Tacoma. In 2013 we only had ten homicides. Tacoma earned its reputation as a dangerous city in the early 1990s when California gang members relocated to Tacoma’s Hilltop. In 1995 I was in Los Angeles and ran into some gang members there. I told them I was from Tacoma and they respected that. Now, a generation later, Tacoma has changed in a lot of big ways.

Downtown isn’t quite the ghost town it used to be. You’ll still find empty shops, but it’s a far cry from the mid-1980s when there were just blocks of empty buildings including Tacoma’s Union Station. Similarly, Hilltop isn’t nearly the crime magnet that it was years ago. You’ll still find gangs and street crime in Hilltop but it’s the exception rather than the rule.

One of the reasons I write about homicides in Tacoma is to simply show how rare they really are. I’ve seen bumper stickers and t-shirts that say, “Keep Tacoma Feared” and while I can relate to that sentiment, I don’t think that’s what Tacoma needs.

I’ve also seen people talking about Tacoma being a ‘second city’ with some sort of endless comparison to Seattle. We’re 30 miles away from a much bigger, much more-well-known city. This is true. Half the time when a movie is filmed in Tacoma, they call it Seattle. Recently when the mayor of Tacoma was interviewed on PBS after the State of the Union, they did it against a backdrop of Seattle’s skyline. There seems to be this idea that we are somehow the Randy Quaid to Seattle’s Dennis. I disagree with this idea.

Tacoma has never been interested in being Seattle. We’ve never tried to be. As a life-long Tacoman, I’ve spent almost no time comparing Tacoma to Seattle. We’re entirely different cities. Yes, Tacoma is smaller and less well known, but what most of us Tacomans know is that we don’t care. We’re too busy doing our own thing to worry about what Seattle’s doing.

Part of the issue as I see it is that Tacoma refuses to be identified by any one major thing. We aren’t just the Port. We aren’t just the Tide Flats. We’re not just our museums. We’re not just our poets. We’re not just our bars or our breweries. We’re just our incredible waterfront or our world class Pt. Defiance Park & Zoo. We’re all of these things and more. The one thing we can shed if we cared to is our reputation as a dangerous town. We simply aren’t anymore. I’m not saying bad things don’t happen here, but compared to a lot of places, it’s a rarity.

You can keep fearing Tacoma if you like. For the rest of us, we’re just going to keep Tacoma.

- Jack Cameron

Tenth Tacoma Homicide of 2013 Derek Wagner

darekwagnerLast Sunday afternoon near the 4500 block of Asotin Street a man went into his back yard and found the dead body of 27-year-old Derek Wagner. He’d been repeatedly stabbed. Derek was from Kalama, Washington. At this time there is no further information about what Derek was doing in Tacoma, who he may of been with, or how he ended up in a South Tacoma back yard.

Police are asking anyone with information about this case to contact them at 253-798-4721.

As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family who might want to share their thoughts about Darek.

- Jack Cameron

Ninth Tacoma Homicide of 2013 Santiago Sanchez Cortes

sanchez-cortesSantiago Sanchez Cortes’ employer was concerned. He had not called or shown up for work for several days. Before this, Santiago was known as a good worker who never missed a day. His employer reported him missing to the police. The last time anyone had seen the 59-year-old man was October 1st.

Police investigated his disappearance and found the last person who Santiago had talked to on the phone. Further investigation revealed that the woman had gambling debts, had used Santiago’s debit card and sold his truck. Soon they had witnesses who had heard her admit to killing Santiago. She had since been arrested along with an accomplice.

Unfortunately, there’s very little information right now as to what happened to Santiago. His body has yet to be recovered. He is the ninth Tacoma homicide this year.

As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim who want to post remembrances of their lost loved one.

-          Jack Cameron

Eighth Tacoma Homicide of 2013: Jalon Bea

Around 4pm last Friday, 17-year-old Jalon Bea was near South 43rd and South G Street with a group of people. There was a shot. Jalon was hit in the chest. His father was able to make it to St. Joe’s Hospital before Jalon died from the gunshot wound.

Jalon was a student at Stadium High School and the eighth Tacoma homicide victim this year. He was the first teenager homicide this year. The investigation at the time of this writing is still ongoing and little information has been released.

It’s always a tragedy when someone so young is killed. As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Jalon and want to share memories of him.

I will write more information when and if there is more released.

Update: A 19-year-old man has turned himself into police for the shooting of Jalon Bea. A rally to celebrate the life of Jalon is being held at Lincoln Park on Tuesday October 16th.

Update 2: Charging documents state that Jalon was standing with a group of people who were passing around a .38 Revolver. One of the people in the group believed he had unloaded the gun and was playing around with it. He pointed it at Jalon, and pulled the trigger. The shooting was accidental and a tragic reminder that guns must always be treated as if they are loaded. The 19-year-old shooter has been charged with first degree manslaughter.

- Jack Cameron

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2013 Lawrence Howse

howse-lawrenceThe city of Tacoma managed to be fairly quiet when it came to homicides this summer. Unfortunately, last Saturday we added one more killing to the year’s totals.

A little after 10 pm on Saturday night at 54-year-old Lawrence Howse arrived home at Sky Terrace. He entered the code for the secure parking garage and parked his black BMW. Before the garage door shut, two men slipped inside and confronted him and robbed him. Then one of the men shot Lawrence. The two men then left. Police believe they headed north on Broadway.

Around 10:30pm a passerby found Lawrence, called 911 and started administering CPR. Fire crews arrived shortly afterward and pronounced Lawrence dead on the scene.

Back in 1995 I lived on the second floor of Sky Terrace. It’s been through some renovations since then and converted from apartments to condominiums. It was a good place to live though, close to downtown Tacoma and the Stadium District shops. Each apartment has a balcony with a great view of the water.

Police say this was a crime of opportunity.

The two suspects are still out there. Crime Stoppers described the suspects as ‘two black males in their late teens or early 20’s with average builds.  The first suspect was seen wearing a white shirt and dark pants, and had a light complexion.  The second suspect was wearing a dark shirt, dark pants, and his hair may have been worn in an afro or short braids.’ Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killers.

Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool is asking anyone who saw anything suspicious Saturday night near South 4th and Broadway or Stadium Way to call 253-591-5968.

As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim.

-          Jack Cameron

UPDATE: 09/27/13 Tacoma Police have arrested two people in connection with the death of Larry Howse.

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2013 – Terric Davis

terrick_davisTerric Davis’ life ended in Tacoma last night after only three years on this planet. A little after 11pm, his mother took him to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital because her child was having trouble breathing. An examination showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen, clear signs of abuse. Twenty minutes later, Terric Davis’ died. His mother’s boyfriend has been arrested in connection with the murder. Terric’s 2-year-old sister was taken into protective custody by police.

This is the fifth Tacoma homicide this year and the second Tacoma homicide in which the mother’s boyfriend murdered a toddler. A little over a month ago two-year-old Chayson Colley-Jones was murdered.

I would love to write more about Terric’s life, to tell you of all of the friends he made, the things he accomplished, and the dreams he had. Unfortunately, these things will never be known and never happened and cannot be written about. These Tacoma stories have been stolen from all of us and we are all a little poorer because of it.

-          Jack Cameron