Tag Archives: Tacoma

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

Morning In Tacoma

This photo is actually a combination of six photos I took from my phone yesterday morning using my phone. It was taken from the office building I work in.

This photo is actually a combination of six photos I took from my phone yesterday morning using my phone. It was taken from the office building I work in.

5 Question Friday With Christina Wheeler of the Nearsighted Narwhal

logoI just released a new edition of my self-destruct book, Ruin Your Life. I wrote it, formatted it, created the cover, and published it. I’m a publisher as well as a writer. Later this year, I’m releasing an ebook about running Kickstarter campaigns and a Tacoma-based crime novel. When it comes to Tacoma and publishing, I’m very interested in the things going on in this town. So when I heard about the Nearsighted Narwhal I reached out to Christina Wheeler, the mastermind behind the Nearsighted Narwhal.

Here’s Christina:

1. What is The Nearsighted Narwhal?

The Nearsighted Narwhal is a storefront that is planning on opening in the summer of 2014. Spaceworks has accepted our application and will be helping to place us in a vacant storefront sometime this summer.

Our main focus is on self-publishing. We are a consignment store for anyone who has ever printed their own books, zines, music, comics, or made their own CDs . We will also have a zine/comic creation area in the store along with workshops on self-publishing and the myriad facets of putting your words or art out in the mainstream. We’ll also have a listening station set up to listen to-and buy-local music. We plan on having special events such as open mic nights, musical performances, 24 hour zine/comic making events in which the store will stay open for a full day to accommodate the creators, along with a lot of other fun stuff.

Though our main focus is publishing, we also want to lend a helping hand to people that create other tangible items. We will have a consignment area for these individuals and groups that make buttons, patches, stickers, jewelry, t-shirts, posters, or whatever else the lovely creative community of Tacoma has to offer us. We are open to it all as long as it is handmade.

Our store will also feature visual art from local artists that will be on consignment.

2. What makes this different than other publication companies? 

We are interested in the “little guy”, those individuals that get looked over even though their wares maybe be brilliant and amazing, in favor of more mainstream media. We believe that these underground publishers, these people that choose to take the path less traveled in order to pursue their passions…these are the people that need to be celebrated. They are an untapped creative resource and we’re here to shed some light on them. We want to show people that you don’t need a big publishing contract-though those are nice-to be successful and get your name out there.

Another thing that makes us different is that, as individuals, we are also self-publishers. My partner, Ossain, and I have been in the self-publishing business for years. We understand on an intrinsic level the difficulties that many of these people face on a day-to-day basis and we’re here to help. By opening this store and getting the word out to people who might skip right over the independent publishing shelf at the local bookstore full of mainstream authors, we’re bringing the focus on the people who aren’t censored by editors and publishing company politics. It’s pure unfiltered talent and we’re excited as hell to be able to help.

3. What can people do if they’re interested in participating? 

You can contact us through Facebook, through e-mail (thenearsightednarwhal@gmail.com), through Twitter #Narwhal253, or through our website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com. Once you contact us we will send you the consignment agreement to be completed and signed and given back along with whatever it is you’d like us to sell. That’s it. Super easy.

4. What other local independent artist causes interest you? 

We’re always interested in community building and drumming up interest in the vast well of artistic talent that resides in Tacoma. We’re especially fans of the Art Bus, Creative Colloquy, or any other business or venture that promotes community and focuses on the artist and not turning them into a machine that cranks out works like they’re in front of a conveyor belt.

5. What would you like to see for the future of The Nearsighted Narwhal?

We’d love to be one of the many agents of change in Tacoma for the self-publishers, artists, and other crafty folk. We’d love to spur Tacoma on its way to recognizing the many different talents that this city harbors.

We’d like to be fully established as the self-publisher’s landmark in Tacoma that can help with promoting the DIY community and be involved in the zine festival circuit at some point in the near future. Ideally we envision our store as a place a customer can come to and pick up a zine, a book, a comic, have a cup of coffee, listen to some local music talent, read from their works in front of a crowd of like-minded individuals, eat some locally made goodies, make a button, take a workshop on an area of self-publishing they need help on, and be filled with wonder at the thought of Tacoma being so amazing. Because, you know…it totally is.

I want to thank Christian for joining me for 5 Question Friday. For more information on the Nearsighted Narwhal, check out their website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com.

If you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-       Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Rosie Martinson From TacomaWorkingMoms.com

imageEvery now and then I’ll put out a random tweet asking for people to volunteer to join me for 5 Question Friday. Historically, every single person who has volunteered has not responded once I sent them five questions. It’s been that way for three years now. Rosie Martinson has broken that streak.

Rosie Martinson works in healthcare marketing, but that’s not what we’re talking to her about. Rosie is likely better known as the creator of TacomaWorkingMom.com. Rosie somehow manages to do all of this and raise four boys with her husband. How she found time to join me for 5 Question Friday I’ll never know. Here’s Rosie:

1. What is TacomaWorkingMom.com?
It’s a blog all about living a successful Mom life, Wife life and work life.

2. How did TacomaWorkingMom.com get started?
Tacoma Working Mom got started because I wanted to create a place for working Moms to engage in community and share lifestyle tips and experiences plus I needed a creative outlet separate from my day job.

3. What’s the one thing you want every Tacoma Working Mom to know?
It doesn’t matter whether you have a conventional job or you stay at home, all Moms are working Moms.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being a working Mom in Tacoma?
As a working Mom in Tacoma one of the best things is all-day kindergarten. My favorite thing about being a working Mom is sharing what I do at work with my boys and how I make a difference in our community. 

5. What do you see for the future of TacomaWorkingMom.com?
The future of Tacoma Working Mom is full of opportunities. I just launched TacomaWorkingMom TV in January! I’m interviewing women that have a story to share. I also want to partner with brands to help promote everything local.
I’d like to thank Rosie for participating in 5 Question Friday. You can find more about TacomaWorkingMom at the links below. If you or someone you know wants to participate, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

www.tacomaworkingmom.com

www.youtube.com/tacomaworkingmomtv 

www.twitter.com/tacomamomblog

www.facebook.com/tacomamomblog

-       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

5 Question Friday with Tacoma Police Department Public Information Officer Loretta Cool

tacoma-police-genericWhen I read about police spokespeople online or see them on television I always feel a little bad. It seems like they never sleep and are always talking to the press on a near endless schedule. They all seem to need a vacation. I’m sure Loretta Cool, the Public Information Officer of the Tacoma Police Department is the same way, but I couldn’t tell. Despite a workload I don’t even want to think about, she took the time to talk to me and participate in 5 Question Friday.

Given recent events in Tacoma, I felt it would be good to get to Tacoma to the TPD. I also wanted a bit of a historical perspective on the crime in Tacoma. I’ve probably introduced her enough. Here’s Loretta.

1. What is the most misunderstood part about Police Work?

I think there are many misunderstood areas of Police work. Lately, an issue that seems to keep popping up is about Police being able to arrest someone based on an identification by a victim or witness. Everyone seems to think if a victim points out someone they believe committed a crime, the Police can arrest them.  On the surface I guess that would be wonderful, as long as you were not the one wrongly pointed out. Police have to be able to link a suspect to a crime through many avenues, the identification is just one part. Police can have a victim swear up and down that this particular person committed the crime. Police then discover that the “identified person” was nowhere near the crime.  It seems I spend a lot of time explaining that identification of a possible suspect may not culminate in an arrest. If Police are able to tie the suspect to the crime, the identification helps tremendously.

2. Recently two people have been shot and others have been attacked on South 19th in Tacoma’s Hilltop area reminding long time residents of the early 1990s when Hilltop was genuinely dangerousWhat do you feel the police can do to help keep Hilltop safe?

I do appreciate the wording here about the Hilltop being genuinely dangerous. In the early 90’s Police responded to multiple gunshots being fired per shift and many people being robbed, shot or killed. Tacoma has come a long way since that time. Two incidents in near proximity to each other do not make the Hilltop like it was back then. The crime was not just limited to the Hilltop, we had rampant crime throughout the city. The Police took proactive measures to make the City a much safer place. With these two incidents and any others, the Police will continue to actively seek out those responsible and hopefully be able to arrest and convict them.

The things that we have been doing since that time. Being out in the community, getting to know the people who live, work and play here. Actively Patrolling so that the Police presence is felt and citizens feel good about going to Police for help.  Continue using all available resources and tools to apprehend the persons responsible for committing the crimes. And develop more connections to leverage what we have.

3. What do you feel the general public can do to help keep Hilltop safe?

Be out and about. The more good people are visible the bad people tend to go away.  Report the suspicious activity, gatherings and crimes when they occur. A lot of Police work is still reactionary, if nothing is reported, it is like nothing is happening. When things are reported the Police are aware of those areas that need the high visibility of Police.

4. What changes have you seen in Tacoma in the time you’ve been here?

I have already touched on a few of these. What amazes me is the cleanup of many areas.  On Pacific Ave from 7th to 25th Street there used to be something like 40 bars. Now there are businesses that promote growth, not to mention the UW. The same was true on MLK there used to be about 25 Bars between 6th Ave and 25th Street. Now there are businesses that attract more family activities. Even the expansion of St. Joseph’s hospital, Tacoma General and Mary Bridge. On the eastside of Tacoma, the Boys and Girls club, skate park, pool and a welcoming avenue with street improvements, instead of decrepit apartments and bars lining the streets. These are just a few changes that I think are for the better.  There are still improvements to be made all across the City but I think in the last 30 or so years the City of Tacoma has come a long way.

 

5. It’s lunch time. With the whole city available, where do you get a good bite to eat?

This one is not as easy as it sounds. I work with a group of about 15 people. We try to go to lunch somewhere every couple of months. One person will pick their favorite place to go. I have been out with them about 5 times so far, each time a different new spot for me. And each time it has been a great place to go. So, what I would offer here is Google Tacoma Restaurants and pick the type of food you like, my guess is the place will be a great place to eat since so far I like them all.

 

I’d like to thank Loretta Cool for joining me on 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know would like to join me in a future installment, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

Help Victims of a Senseless Attack

justinwinter

This past Tuesday tattoo artist Justin Winter, Mishele Dupree, and a friend were  walking on South 19th and Martin Luther King Way. They were approached by a group of young people. There were at least 15 of them. Justin had refused to give one of them a cigarette a few nights before.

The girls with Justin managed to escape with bruises. Justin was not so lucky. He was knocked to the ground and repeatedly stomped in the face and hands and left with a jaw broken in multiple places and numerous other injuries. He’s finally being released from the hospital today.

The attack occurred on a busy street. The nearest police station was only two blocks away. While the Hilltop neighborhood is notorious for crime from the gang violence of the early 1990s, Hilltop has changed dramatically since then. And violent attacks such as this are rare.

This crime is eerily reminiscent of the 2000 beating death of Eric Toews. In that case, it was one of a series of attacks by the same group of teenagers. I’ve spoken with the Tacoma Police Department and have been told that similar attacks have not occurred lately.

As one might expect, the injuries Justin has sustained are resulting in substantial financial hardships. There is a fundraising page set up for Justin at the link below. If you have the means, please donate what you can.
https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6dUe5

- Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Stephanie Anne Johnson From The Voice!

stephanieannejohnson

Welcome To 5 Question Friday. On Fridays I ask five questions of a Tacoma local. This week’s participant is Stephanie Anne Johnson. If you’re a frequent viewer of The Voice on NBC her name might sound familiar.

I’ve known Stephanie for many, many years. In addition to being enormously talented, she’s also just an awesome person. I consider her a good friend who I rarely see. Now that she’s on national television, I expect that’s going to be even truer. But she was nice enough to take time out to answer five questions for the return of 5 Question Friday. Here’s Stephanie:

1. What made you decide to go on The Voice?

I chose The Voice because I was very attracted to the concept of not being judged on outside appearance. I like to think that the best parts of me aren’t parts you can see with the naked eye.

2. What has been the most surprising thing about this experience so far?

For some reason I expected this process to be easier because I’ve had years of training and experience. I thought that might give me an edge over other contestants but none of that really seems to matters. It all comes down to how you sound on that particular song on that particular day.

3. What’s something you haven’t done yet with your music career that you’d like to do?

Please, I’m an animal. I want to do everything. I want Broadway. I want the West End. I want to travel land and sea playing songs I wrote. I want Grammy’s. I want to play college campuses, concert halls and your living room. I’m rather zealous about performing if you couldn’t tell. But basically I just want to travel and sing and continue to pay my bills with the fruits of my rocking.

4. Who are some of your other favorite local acts?

Ummm, well, I really like Steve Stefanowicz. His fingers are positively educated, great guitar and mandolin player! He played lead on my last record. Bill Leach out in that Auburn area, guitar player, gear head, brilliant producer/engineer. Zach Fleury is awesome, he was the lead percussionist on my 2nd record. I hear good things about Ben Union. Ethan Tucker and his band are awesome. Allen Stone I love. The Head and the Heart. Kim Archer knows her stuff really well. She’s mentoring this group called the Whoppie Cats, nice girls, great vocals, great slide guitar. Billy Shew, Junkyard Jane, Bennet Pullen, Eric Robert, Raphel Tranquilino, Mighty High, Kareem Kandi, Gina Belleveau, James Coats, Kurt Lindsey not to mention Vicci Martinez, Emily Randolph or Austin Jencks. And don’t think I couldn’t go on. Basically there’s a lot of good live music in your house. Get out of your house right now and find some good music. Go, go right now!

5. What are your plans after The Voice?

I want to put a small three or four piece together and I want to travel within the US playing small house concerts. I like the connection I can make with people I might not otherwise meet if not for the music. I like an audience I can touch and feel and listen to. However, keeping my earlier comments in mind, this is only the beginning.

I wish Stephanie the best of luck on The Voice and her future endeavors and would like to publicly thank her for taking the time to join me on 5 Question Friday.

If you know someone who you would like to join me on 5 Question Friday, let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-          Jack Cameron

Homeless Guy Looking For Cigarettes At A Bus Stop

In honor of National Poetry Month I present a 3-minute-movie with poetry by former 5 Question Friday participant David Fewster and filmed by his daughter Hannah Fewster.

Surviving Pacific: Poison Apple

Poison Apple during construction

Poison Apple during construction

The construction on Pacific Avenue continues. To their credit, the city has placed banners and signs saying that businesses are open during construction. A couple weeks ago I got to the corner of South 10th and Pacific. A construction worker asked me where I was heading. I told her I wanted to go to Poison Apple. She radioed someone and instructed me to walk down a pathway in the street made by barriers. Once I got to the front of Poison Apple, another construction worker let me walk through the area and enter the business.

Jooley Heaps, the owner of Poison Apple is an old friend. We went to high school together. Her shop is an extension of her personality. It’s unique, intriguing and always fun. It’s the sort of place that you can find over-sized retro sunglasses or a crushed velvet coat for $20. It’s the store to buy something if you like it when people ask, “Where did you get that?”

Like other Pacific Avenue businesses, Jooley’s business has been hurt by the construction. Her shop is exactly the sort of place that people walk into because they’re passing by and right now that sort of thing is nearly impossible. With no window shoppers, Poison Apple sometimes has days where there are only a handful of customers.

Luckily, Jooley is every bit as imaginative when it comes to running her business as she is at getting interesting items to sell. You’ll find Jooley setting up vending booths at various local events whenever she gets the chance. This is the way many first time customers discover her. She’s also just put up a new Poison Apple website. Now you can purchase the oddities found at Poison Apple even if you’re not local.

Poison Apple is a one of a kind store and the sort of place that makes Tacoma such a great place to live. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello to Jooley. You’re sure to find something that strikes your fancy.

You can find Poison Apple at 907 Pacific Avenue or online at http://poisonappletacoma.com

-          Jack Cameron