Around 10:30pm on July 18th Tacoma Police received a tip about three young men in an SUV confronting people about their gang affiliation. About twenty minutes later 24-year-old Robert Doss II and a 20-year-old woman had parked near the intersection of South 14th and L Street in a 2004 Ford Explorer. They were eating when the SUV pulled up. The man in the passenger seat of the SUV asked them where they were from. Robert told them he was from Hilltop. The driver pulled the SUV slightly forward. The man in the backseat, a hooded sweatshirt over his face opened fire and drove away.
Robert was hit in the chest. His female companion was hit in the hand. She managed to drive to the nearby St. Joseph’s Medical Center where Robert was pronounced dead and she was given medical treatment.
The three men were found six days later in a house in Graham and have been arrested for their part in Robert’s murder. A surveillance camera at the East Side convenience store helped identify the driver. The driver admitted that they were looking for rival gang members to attack in retaliation for a shooting in May. The driver claimed that Robert was responsible, but there’s no evidence that Doss was in a gang much less responsible for any violence whatsoever.
This is the seventh Tacoma homicide this year. Typically in the city of Tacoma we have about one homicide a month. But we’ve had three in the last week. It’s worth noting though that though this shooting occurred on Hilltop this is only the second homicide in the past year to take place in that neighborhood. This is a marked difference from the violent days of the 1990s.
When violent crime increases it’s easy for the human experience to be lost in the statistics and the law. Of course this is impossible if a loved one is the victim of a homicide. Robert was a security guard at a downtown fast food restaurant. He was a good guy with a great smile. And he will be missed by those who knew and loved him in a way that most media will ignore and I will fail to do justice to.
As always, the comment section is reserved for those who knew Robert who might want to share thoughts or memories of him. Comments are moderated and approved before they are posted.
– Jack Cameron
It was just after 5:00am on Thursday March 15th when 54-year-old Robert ‘Big Dave’ Crall took his last cab fare near the 5800 block of South Montgomery. The 19-year-old man got in the cab. They made it about a quarter mile. The 19-year-old pulled a bandana over his face and tried to rob Big Dave. The confrontation ended with Big Dave shot in the chest and the 19-year-old on the run. The shooter would be arrested later that day and implicated in a couple of home invasions and at least one other robbery.
As Robert ‘Big Dave’ Crall lay dying outside his cab with a chest wound, a nearby neighbor held his hand. He becomes the sixth Tacoma homicide this year. Six homicides by March is nearly double our typical homicide rate. It is difficult to find a cause for this sudden uptick in violence in the city. It’s also worth noting that the amount of homicides is not a very good measure of such things as there are aggravated assaults that are just as violent and amount to attempted homicides.
Family and friends say that Robert ‘Big Dave’ Crall was incredibly friendly and generous. He had a 27-year-old son and an ex-wife who he was good friends with. He was funny. He’d been driving a cab for two years. That particular morning they had asked him to skip work because he was tired, but he went out to do the job like so many of us do.
Once again I have to apologize for the delay in getting this article written. It has been four months since Big Dave’s death. I am sure friends and family still feel like it was yesterday. It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t lost anyone close what it means when there’s a hole in your life where there used to be a smiling person you loved. It’s not just something that happened. It’s something that happens every day when you look at the world and don’t see them in it.
As always the comments section is reserved for those who knew and loved Big Dave. Comments are moderated and have to be approved by me before they appear. By all accounts Big Dave was one of those people who made Tacoma what it is and the city is a little less having lost him.
– Jack Cameron
It’s was almost 2am on Wednesday, February 21st. 27-year-old Tyler Zimmerman was at a friend’s house in the 6110 block of South Fawcett. They decided to purchase some magic mushrooms and invited a dealer over. The 26-year-old dealer showed up with a friend. Tyler handed over $300. The dealer pulled out the mushrooms, but when Tyler saw them he decided they weren’t worth the money and asked for the money back. The dealer refused. A fight ensued. The fight spilled into the yard. At one point the dealer pulled a knife and stabbed Tyler in the back.
“Ow, what did you hit me with? What did you hit me with?” Tyler said before collapsing to the ground. After police arrived, Tyler was transported to the hospital where he later died.
The drug dealer and the drug dealer’s friend were both arrested. This is the fifth Tacoma homicide this year. This is a sharp increase in homicides compared to last year.
Tyler was the oldest of five children and had a seven-year-old daughter. He worked at a company that set up offices. In his off time he liked working on cars. He also liked gardening. He grew roses in his mother’s yard.
There are some who would argue that anyone involved in illegal drugs should not find it unexpected when things turn violent or fatal, but those people lack empathy, compassion, or awareness. Odds are that those same people have close friends and relatives who engage in such behavior and would feel very differently if the victim were one of their own.
Every death matters. Every killing is a loss. Right now there is a seven-year-old little girl who will grow up without her father because another man chose to end her father’s life over $300.
As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Tyler to share memories or thoughts of him. All comments are monitored and approved by me.
I would also like to take this moment to apologize to Tyler’s friends and family for the delay in getting this article written. I have been writing about Tacoma homicides for over a decade. This sort of writing and research takes a toll. I had to give myself some time away and as this is a one-man website, that meant a delay in getting this done. Tyler is not forgotten.
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.
As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim. The comment section is moderated and I personally approve each comment before it shows. If you are a friend or family of the victim and would like to get in touch with me privately, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Jack Cameron
It was 2:30am on Wednesday January 17th. Two men wearing dark clothing with their faces covered kicked in the door of one of the apartments of a four-plex in the 600 block of South Steele Street. At least one of them was armed. Inside the apartment 24-year-old Jawuan Swift was asleep with his 23-year-old girlfriend. Their five-year-old son was also asleep at the residence. Jawuan got up after hearing the door being kicked in. He exited the bedroom and was shot. The robbers also stole money before leaving.
Jawuan’s girlfriend called 911, but first responders were unable to revive Jawuan after doing CPR. Jawuan Swift becomes the second Tacoma homicide of 2018.
Jawuan was a graduate of Franklin Pierce High School and graduated Tacoma Community College in 2014 where he studied childhood education. He was very interested in sports and loved helping children learn. He wanted to be a teacher.
It is impossible to overstate how devastating the sudden loss of a loved one can be. This is especially true when the person is literally taken from you in your own home. My thoughts are with Jawuan’s friends and family.
Police believe that Jawuan knew the people who murdered him. They have not made any arrests at this time. Anyone with knowledge of this incident is encouraged to call that Tacoma Crimestoppers at 253-591-5959.
As always the comments section is monitored and reserved for those who knew Jawuan and want to share any thoughts of memories of him.
– Jack Cameron
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