It was around 4pm on February 1st when Tacoma police officers arrived at the home of Otto Youngers in the 3500 block of South Wilkeson Street in the Proctor neighborhood. They were there to check on the 78-year-old man after getting a call from his son’s friend. The friend said that Otto’s son had texted him earlier in the day saying he shot his father. His son had been behaving strangely lately. Inside they found Otto Youngers dead from a gunshot to the face. His son had a shell casing in his pocket and kept talking about his father being a ‘monster’, a ‘nazi’, and the person responsible for killing JFK. Otto Youngers becomes the fourth Tacoma homicide this year.
Otto’s 53-year-old son has been arrested for his murder. Though they mostly kept to themselves, Otto and his son were well known and liked in the neighborhood. Neighbors say Otto’s son was behaving strangely in recent weeks. It is clear that Otto’s death is the result of a combination of deadly weapons and significant mental illness.
This is the second parent being killed by their son in less than a year. As the fourth homicide this year, it’s also a significant increase in the rate of homicides from recent years. Typically we have about one homicide a month. At our current rate we are over double that.
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It was just after 1:00am early Saturday morning on January 27th. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales and his 15-year-old best friend waited in the alley behind his best friend’s girlfriend’s house in the 5100 block of South Oakes Street. Hector had a baseball bat. The plan was that his best friend’s girlfriend had invited an acquaintance over. They knew this acquaintance had marijuana. Their plan was to rob him and take it.
The acquaintance came to the house expecting to have sex with the girl, but when he got there his gun fell out of his pocket. The girl told him to leave and texted her boyfriend to warn him about the gun. The acquaintance exited the house and was attacked. He was hit several times with the bat before pulling out his gun and firing one shot. The shot hit Hector Gonzales in the chest. The acquaintance ran away tossing the gun in some nearby bushes. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s third Tacoma homicide of 2018. Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Hector’s killer as it was deemed self-defense.
Whenever a teenager is murdered regardless of the circumstances it is a tragedy. In this case, it is difficult to see anything but tragedy. It is every parent’s nightmare. There is no one in this story you want to imagine your child being. And for four families, it is not imagination, but hard, cruel reality. Teenagers are not fully formed people. They have not figured out who they are yet. We do not know and will never know who Hector Gonzales would have turned out to be. Hector’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign in his name.
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– Jack Cameron