Sometime after 10:30pm on January 16, 2018, a garage in the 400 block of 59th Street caught fire. Firefighters arrived on the scene around 10:45pm. About this time neighbors heard what may have been gunshots or possibly explosions from the fire. They reported seeing a man with a rifle crawling on the lawn shortly after the fire. The man with the rifle was 27-year-old Michael Bender, a Marine and veteran of two tours in Afghanistan. One in 2010 and another in 2012.
Tacoma police officers arrived responding to the call. They made repeated requests for the man to put the rifle down. Then gunfire was exchanged. A total of seven Tacoma Police Officers opened fire on Michael Bender. He was the only one at the scene hit with any bullets and died at the scene becoming Tacoma first homicide of 2018.
Michael enlisted in the Marines in 2009. He was a Combat Engineer with the rank of Corporal. He had also been stationed overseas in Okinawa and Japan when he wasn’t serving in Afghanistan. He was discharged in 2012. He was known to have a big heart and be fiercely loyal to those he worked and fought alongside.
We may never know what caused Michael’s actions on the last day of his life and I am not one to speculate. What is known is that we’ve lost one more life from our city, Michael’s family and friends have a hole in their lives and will never be the same. Michael’s family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for funeral costs. Here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/rip-michael-bender
As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of Michael who want to share thoughts or memories of him. It is monitored. Each comment is approved before it posts.
– Jack Cameron
My little brother was one of the good guys. He was taken away from us way too soon. Our family will be in pain for the rest of our lives. I have hundreds of emails from all over the world. Marines & friends. Everyones shocked & confused as to why this happened. He was a kind soul & had the biggest heart. He’s never even been in a fist fight. He would give a stranger the shirt off his back. We understand there was another shooting in the area 30 min. prior, so the police dept. was on edge. My brother was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I want everyone to know Michael Bender was an Amazing brother, uncle, son, grandon, brother in-law & friend. It’s painful, no words can explain how we feel. One of the good guys was taken from this world!