In the early morning hours of July 24, 2021 Bud Morgan was in Wright Park. The 32-year-old had left his home finding the walls too confining and wanting desperately to get out, get away, just go. In recent years, Bud had started taking methamphetamines. It wasn’t something he was proud of and he preferred to deal with the addiction on his own. This particular night he ran into two young men. One of them had a gun. There was yelling. One man told the other to shoot. The gunshots woke up nearby neighbors, but it would not be until a couple hours later when a passerby found Bud’s body. Bud Morgan is the sixteenth Tacoma homicide of 2021.
The two men responsible for Bud’s death were caught a few weeks later using surveillance camera footage and images from social media.
Bud was a generous guy. He enjoyed helping people. It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to drop everything and do what he could to help someone in need. It’s easy for some to think that a drug addiction invalidates a person’s humanity, but the truth of it is, that those who turn to drugs are often the ones who care the most, who love the most, and who hurt the most. A person does not escape into drugs unless they have a feeling they want to escape from.
Bud’s death, like that of the woman killed hours earlier, was senseless and done with a callous disregard for the impact a death has on the families and friends of the victims.
As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Bud and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
Shortly before 1:30am on July 24th, 2021, 36-year-old Heather Lee Tucker suddenly crossed the street near the 900 block of North Pearl Street after seeing a man ahead of her. She knew trouble when she saw it. What she didn’t know was that another man was trying to flank her. What exactly happened next is unclear, but moments later there were gunshots and the two men can be seen on surveillance cameras running away. Heather was shot multiple times and became Tacoma’s 15th Tacoma homicide victim of 2021.
An hour and a half later the two men shot and killed another person in Wright Park. Police were able to identify the suspects through surveillance cameras and social media posts and arrested them a few weeks after the crimes. No motive for the crimes is known at this time.
Heather was a talented singer and well loved by her family. She was the sort of person you looked forward to seeing around the holidays. She had that way about her that made whatever room she was in a bit warmer. She is someone who is missed.
As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Heather to share thoughts or memories of her.
Denise Smith was working her fifth shift at her new job as a security guard at a building in the 900 block of A Street. In the early morning hours of July 18, 2021, she was watching camera monitors from the lobby when she saw a homeless woman washing herself in the fountain in front of the building. The 41-year-old security guard walked outside to talk to the woman and then returned to the lobby.
Moments later a 26-year-old 6’5” drunk male soldier approached the front door of the building. He had recently lost a bar fight. Denise motioned for him to leave. He didn’t. When she opened the door, the man immediately began beating her. During the next ten minutes Denise fought back, tried to escape, and did everything she could to survive, but her attacker was relentless, dragging her around, stabbing her with her keys, and beating her again and again.
Denise was found just after 6:00am when the security guard arriving for the next shift arrived. Denise was pronounced dead on the scene becoming Tacoma’s 14th Tacoma homicide.
The perpetrator of this crime had no motive, claims not to remember the attack, and has been charged with first degree murder.
Denise is described by family as being a sweet person who largely kept to herself.
As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Denise and want to share any thoughts or memories of her.
In the early morning hours of July 18, 2021 neighbors in the 5600 block of Pacific Avenue heard gunshots. Police arrived around 3:00am to find 39-year-old Leroy Navarro shot in the torso. Leroy was transferred to an area hospital where he later died of his wound becoming the thirteenth Tacoma homicide this year.
Despite this homicide occurring almost a year and a half ago, detectives have released little other information and have announced no leads on this case.
I was unable to find much online about Leroy. These sorts of homicides are haunting. They get little mention in the press and are quickly forgotten by everyone but those who knew the victim, those investigating the case, and the person responsible for the crime. It’s all too easy to just see it as another shooting while ignoring the fact that every death is like a meteor strike to every life the victim touched.
As always the comments section is reserved for those who knew Leroy and want to share their thoughts and memories of him.
If you knew Leroy and have a photo you’d like to share for this article, please email me at email@example.com.
I started writing about Tacoma homicides in 2006 in an effort to honor those who have been taken from my hometown and to demonstrate that Tacoma was no longer the violent crime capital of the Northwest. That year we had 21 Tacoma homicides. The years after that we averaged 12-15 homicides a year. It was so easy to keep up that I added features to TacomaStories. I added 5 Question Friday where I interviewed local luminaries and small businesses. A few years ago my girlfriend and I started seeing what we could do for $20 as a date in Tacoma and that turned into Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date.
In recent years as the violent crime rate has increased, I’ve run out of time to do those other features. In fact, as you can tell from my most recent updates, I’m not even able to keep up on the homicides. In 2021 we had 32 Tacoma homicides. In 2022 we had 45. What started out as something I could do in my spare time is now something I can’t do without dedicating some time to it.
So beginning tomorrow, Monday, January 2, 2023, I will write about a Tacoma homicide victim every Monday. Unfortunately, we’ve had so many homicides that even writing one every week will not have me caught up by this time next year. But I will be closer.
How close I’ll be by this time next year depends entirely on how many Tacoma homicides occur in 2023.
On another note, I plan on bringing back 5 Question Friday soon. If you know someone you believe should participate in 5 Question Friday or if you yourself have some Tacoma related thing you want to talk about, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.