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.
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
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.