7th Tacoma Homicide of 2020: Raymond Martine Serrano

On Wednesday, March 18th, at 11:24pm in the 300 block of East 26th Street a car with three people in it approached 36-year-old Raymond Martine Serrano. Someone in the car opened fire and the car drove off. Raymond fell in the middle of the street. Paramedics arrived shortly after and performed CPR, but they were unable to save his life. Raymond Serrano is the fourth Tacoma homicide in a month and the seventh Tacoma homicide this year.

Raymond was known to the police as a registered sex offender with a child molestation conviction and a habit of going on the run from the law. He was wanted at the time of his death in fact.

The three individuals in the car were arrested shortly after the incident.

Here are TacomaStories, I always try to focus on the victim and put them in the best possible light. They’ve lost their lives. Whatever they’ve done, they’ve paid for it. And no matter who someone is, they have people who cared for them and loved them.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find much about Raymond beyond his trouble with the law. Anyone who knew him and wants to share thoughts or memories, please know that the comments section is moderated and reserved exclusively for that.

  • Jack

6th Tacoma Homicide of 2020: Jermaine Campbell

In the early morning hours of March 12th, 36-year-old Jermaine Campbell and a 24-year-old friend were with a woman who tried to grab the 24-year-old’s gun. While she was unable to get the gun, she was able to get his car keys and drove off in his Volkswagen Jetta. Jermaine and the man got into Jermaine’s Ford Explorer and gave chase. They caught up to her around 1:30am near the 3800 block of South Lawrence. The man opened fire on the car, but Jermaine’s Explorer bumped him while he was still firing. One of the bullets hit Jermaine in the chest. Jermaine then drove two blocks and crashed into a parked semitruck.

A security guard called the police after hearing the shots. They found the Jetta but there was no one inside. They also found a gun inside the car, but the car was locked. An hour and a half later they were called to the scene of the accident and found Jermaine Campbell dead from his gunshot wound.

Police later caught up with the man who shoe Jermaine and arrested him. This is Tacoma’s sixth homicide this year and the third in one week.

I wasn’t able to find much about Jermaine’s life or even a photo of him online. As always the comment section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Jermaine and want to share thoughts or memories of him. If you’d like to send me a photo I can add to this post, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

  • Jack

5th Tacoma Homicide of 2020: Ozelle Tyrece Tate

On the afternoon of March 11th, Ozelle Tyrece Tate left the County City Building where he had appeared in Pierce County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree theft. After leaving the courthouse he walked to his car in the 1500 block of South G Street. Another man approached in another car and asked if he could talk to Ozelle. Ozelle noticed agreed to talk to him but noticed the man was armed. The conversation turned into an argument. A woman found a nearby police officer and told him that there was a fight. Before the officer could get there, a shot was fired. Ozelle had been hit in the thigh and the shooter had driven off.

The shooter was later located in Georgia and arrested.

Ozelle Tryrece Tate is the fifth Tacoma homicide this year. He was a father of four. He had an outgoing personality. He was someone who could talk to anyone. And his loss echoes through the lives of those he knew.

As always the comments section is moderated with each comment approved by me and is reserved for those who knew Ozelle and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

  • Jack

4th Tacoma Homicide of 2020: Manuel (Manny) Ellis

Ellis

On the evening of March 3rd, 33-year-old, Manuel Ellis was playing drums at his church. He typically did this four nights a week and he was talented. In addition to drums he could play piano and keyboard. Manuel, or Manny as he liked to be called, was a father and uncle. He had an 18-month-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. He also had a methamphetamine addiction he was trying to kick. His faith and participation in church was helping him do that.

After playing drums at the church revival, he was feeling a lot of joy. He called his sister, his brother, and his mother to share how good he was feeling. At the end of his phone call with his mother he said, “Remember I love you.”

He spent the rest of the evening hanging out with his landlord and her husband until just before 11pm when he decided to go to the convenience store to get some snacks. What happened over the course of the next half hour is heavily disputed.

We know that Manny was high on methamphetamines. We know that members of the Tacoma Police Department made contact with Manny at 11:22pm near South 96th and Ainsworth. And we also know that Manny Ellis was dying within two minutes of police officers making contact with him.

Police claim that Manny was banging on a woman’s car window, trying to open parked car doors, and hit their car with his hands as well. They claim that he was suffering from a state called ‘excited delirium’ which is said to induce sudden acts of violence, unusual strength, and heightened temperature. They claim that when one officer got out of the car, Manny threw the officer to the ground. None of these claims have been substantiated. The autopsy makes no note of any signs of heightened delirium and though Manny’s toxicology report does show a high amount of methamphetamines in his system, the medical examiner says this was not the cause of death.

When police made contact with Manny, they used a Taser within the first minute striking him in the chest. They restrained him using handcuffs, a mouth hood to prevent biting or spitting, and a canvass strap to restrain his legs. Manny can be heard on police radio saying he couldn’t breathe at 11:23pm. Officers requested medical aid at 11:25pm, just three minutes after making contact with him. Within a minute of the fire department showing up, Manny Ellis was unconscious and had stopped breathing.

Paramedics spent 40 minutes using CPR and other life-saving procedures to try to save him, but Manny was pronounced dead at 12:12am. Later the Medical Examiner would confirm that Manny died of hypoxia due to restraint.

Manny Ellis is the fourth Tacoma homicide this year. He is also the fourth Tacoma homicide in the last two years committed by Tacoma police officers. The similarities between the death of Manuel Ellis and the death of George Floyd who also died in police custody due to careless restraint techniques are disturbing. Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and others have called for the charging and firing of the four officers involved in the death of Manuel Ellis, but no charges have yet been filed.

There have been multiple protests in the wake of Manny’s death. A local business near my office has his name spray painted on the plywood covering one of their windows. Homicides like Manny’s are the reason for the need and popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement.

What is sometimes lost in more heavily publicized murders is the loss of life on a more personal level. Manny had two children. His 18-month-old daughter will likely retain no memories of her father. His 11-year-old son will never get to have the adult friendship with his father that I so cherish with my own son. Manny helped raise his sister’s kids. They have lost a close and loving uncle. His mother has lost a son. His friends never get to hear Manny’s laugh again. Manny’s death doesn’t just have a political impact. The loss of Manny, like the loss of anyone will echo through the lives he touched for decades. It’s a loss that cannot be calculated. And I say that as someone who counts homicides in Tacoma.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Manuel Ellis. His family has a GoFundMe campaign to help them get through this.

As always, the comments section is moderated (meaning each comment is approved by me before it shows up) and is reserved for those who personally knew Manny and who want to share thoughts or memories of him.

  • Jack

3rd Tacoma Homicide of 2020: Steven ‘Tony’ Haggard

Tony Haggard

48-year-old Steven Anthony Haggard, who went by Tony, was in his truck in the parking lot of the Jack In The Box in the 5200 block of Tacoma Mall Blvd. on the last Saturday morning in February. An unknown Black male in his late 20s or early 30s approached him on foot. He had black hair worn in braids or dreadlocks pulled into a pony tail. The sides and back of his head was shaved. He may have had a black eye from some previous altercation.

Tony and this man got into an argument that ended when the man shot Tony. He then drove off in Tony’s truck leaving him to die. Steven ‘Tony’ Haggard is the third homicide victim this year in Tacoma.

Because this is an unsolved homicide not a lot is known about the exact motive for the murder. What is known is that Tacoma has lost someone who was known for his generosity and willingness to help others out. His daughter, Kendra has lost a father. And we’ve all lost a world in which Tony is still a part of the future.

Haggard’s family was not wealthy and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up in his name to help pay for funeral costs and other expenses.

CrimeStoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Tony’s killer.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Tony and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

– Jack Cameron

2nd Tacoma Homicide of 2020: Ernest Guy Searcy

Ernest-Searcy

It was a cold Tuesday morning on January 14th when 48-year-old Ernest Searcy encountered another 48-year-old man on East L and Puyallup Avenue. They did not speak long and at no time did Ernest behave in any sort of threatening manner, but this did not stop the other man from shooting him twice then driving away. A passerby jotted down the license plate number of the man’s car and the man was arrested a short time after that. An individual administered CPR to Ernest until paramedics arrived, but they were unable to revive him. Ernest Searcy is the second Tacoma homicide of 2020.

Ernest was born in New Jersey. Growing up, Ernest was someone who picked things up very quickly. He’d create his own dances and write and perform raps. His grandmother nicknamed him ‘Speedy’. After high school he joined Job Corp and met Shalonda Nelson. The two of them had a daughter named Diamond. Though the relationship did not last, his love for his daughter never faded. He moved to Tacoma to reconnect with her. It wasn’t easy. Eventually they did reconnect and he started going to church with her.

When he wasn’t making music or spending time with his daughter, Ernest was a licensed forklift operator. He was someone who liked to laugh and had a habit of lightening the mood of any room he was in.

When a senseless killing like this happens, it’s difficult to understand or reconcile because there is a sudden hole in the lives of everyone who knew the victim. It’s something that changes lives in a way that can only be truly understood by others who have lost someone to violence.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Ernest and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

  • Jack

First Tacoma Homicide of 2020 Brian Cendejas

Brian Cendejas

It was 1am on January 5th at 25-year-old Brian Cendejas’s  grandmother’s home in the 3800 block of North 21st Street. Brian and a few friends were drinking. One of his friends had a ball of cocaine the size of a softball. There was also a 9mm pistol. A 26-year-old was at least three feet away from Brian when he shot him in the left side of the head. He and two others grabbed the cocaine and ran off. Authorities arrived a short time later. Brian was transported to St. Joseph’s hospital where he later died.

Charging papers say that they made jokes and tried to come up with a credible story as to how Brian got shot. When they were arrested a few days later, they claimed that Brian shot himself, but the evidence and the fact that Brian was right-handed destroyed their claims. Brian’s killer is currently out on bail and has been charged with manslaughter.

Brian Cendajas was the first homicide of 2020. He was also a friend of my son’s. They used to skate together. My son says he was always a friendly guy and someone he really enjoyed spending time with. He had an infectious laugh. And he loved skating. Who and what he may have become later in life we will never know as that has been stolen from us.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Brian and want to share thoughts or memories of him. There is a GoFundMe page set up for Brian’s family. Please donate if you have the means.

  • Jack

22nd Tacoma Homicide of 2019: Dung Mai

On the evening of October 18th, 52-year-old Dung Mai was working on a house with a 46-year-old friend. The two had known each other most of their lives. Dung had lived with his friend’s family for years. Many described them as close as brothers. Neighbors report hearing the two arguing about money. A little after 8:30pm, Dung’s friend shot him in the head, killing him. Dung Mai is the twenty-second Tacoma homicide of 2019.

When Dung was found, he had $2,000 in cash on him and a plane ticket to Vietnam. It’s not known if these items have anything to do with his death. His friend was arrested for Dung’s murder shortly after police arrived.

Dung Mai’s murder is also the ninth domestic violence related homicide in 2019. Domestic violence homicides are the most common kind of killing in Tacoma.

I was unable to learn to much about Dung Mai and was not able to locate a photograph of him. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the Dung Mai and would like to share thoughts or memories of him. Also, if one of his loved ones has a photo of him they’d like me to include in this article, please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

  • Jack Cameron

21st Tacoma Homicide of 2019: Bennie Branch

Bennie Branch

It was just after 2:30am on September 8th when 24-year-old Bennie Branch was pulled over by a Tacoma police officer in the 3400 block of Portland Avenue. Bennie had multiple warrants out for his arrest, but his family say he was in the area checking on his mother who was homeless. There are conflicting reports as to what happened and the Pierce County Sherriff’s Department is still investigating. Media reports do not say why the police officer pulled Bennie over. Family members say that Bennie ran from the police officer and was shot in the back. They found a pistol on the ground near Bennie. Family members claim this was an airsoft pistol that shot pellets. Bennie Branch is the twenty-first Tacoma homicide of 2019.

I have never written about a police involved shooting that did not have conflicting reports of exactly what happened. However, it is uncommon for the police departments involved to release so little information. This may be due to a recent change in state law that requires any police involved shooting to be investigated by a separate agency which is why the Pierce County Sherriff’s Department is investigating the Tacoma Police Department shooting.

Typically there are one or two police involved shootings in Tacoma every year, but like every other metric for homicides in this city, police involved shootings have increase. This is the third police involved shooting of 2019.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Bennie who want to share thoughts or memories about Bennie.

  • Jack Cameron

20th Tacoma Homicide of 2019: Jahleen Mitchell

Jahleen Mitchell

The day before his death, 38-year-old Jahleen Mitchell got $50 from his mother and gave half of it to a homeless man in need. He was a former military police officer and was planning on being a commercial pilot. On the afternoon of September 5th he had an altercation with a 40-year-old man in People’s Park near South 10th and L Streets. It isn’t known how the altercation started. What is known is that Jahleen did his best to avoid the conflict, running into the park. A knife fell from his backpack while he was running. The man chasing him picked it up. Jahleen lost his footing and fell. His attacker stabbed him and punched him repeatedly. Jahleen managed to get back to his feet and headed towards a nearby convenience store where other pedestrians tried to help him. Jahleen’s attacker then ran off. Jahleen was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died from his wounds becoming the twentieth Tacoma homicide of 2019.

Jahleen’s attacker was later arrested and charged with first and second degree murder. If he’s convicted he will spend the rest of his life behind bars thanks to Washington’s ‘Three Strikes’ law and two previous convictions for violent crimes.

This sort of homicide is the very definition of senseless. Even the attacker’s father admits this never should have happened. For the first time in over a decade we’ve had more twenty homicides in a year.

Jahleen was born in Jamaica but moved with his family to Tacoma at the age of six. He graduated from Mt. Tahoma High School and was the proud father of an eight-year-old daughter. His family meant everything to him and his generosity was one of his defining traits. It’s impossible to overstate the impact Jahleen’s murder will have with his family and friends. It’s the sort of damage one only understands if they’ve lost someone in a similar manner.

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

  • Jack Cameron