Category Archives: 2021 Homicides

9th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Tuuaipea Masaniai

On April 22, 2021 Tuuaipea Masaniai was shot in the chest in the 2300 block of 96th Street at around 6:30pm. The 28-year-old man who shot him called for paramedics, but Tuuaipea died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s ninth homicide of 2021.

The details of what led up to the shooting have not been released and there has been almost no media coverage of this homicide. I contacted prosecutors who informed me that they declined to charge the man responsible for Tuuaipea’s death as they determined he was shot in self-defense.

I was unable to find out much information about Tuuaipea. I do my best to write these articles with the victim in mind and to show who they were as a person, but I am limited in that I only have the time and resources to explore what I can find online.  In this case, I didn’t find a large online presence from or about Tuuaipea. When this happens I have to rely on those who knew the person to fill out who they were. This is why the comments section is always reserved for those who knew the victim of the homicide. They can provide detail that I’m unable to give.

If you knew Tuuaipea Masaniai, please comment below or email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com with details of his life you’d like me to include in an updated version of this article.

  • Jack Cameron

8th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Frank Hahn

Sixty-five-year-old Frank Hahn suffered from numerous health issues as a result of his drinking but he couldn’t give it up. On the evening of April 10, 2021 he had two vodka drinks before heading to the bar in the 4000 block of McKinley Avenue. It was Saturday night karaoke at the bar and fairly busy. Frank walked in, ordered a vodka drink, and sat a bar stool next to the karaoke host’s stand. He struck up a conversation with the bartender. At around 11:20pm Frank accidentally dropped some money on the ground. Moments later a 47-year-old man walked in. As Frank bent down to pick up the money, the man patted his pockets and walked towards Frank. Frank smiled at the guy and offered a handshake the man did not accept. The two stood and faced each other before the man backed off and went to his table.

Then a minute later, the man returned. Frank got off his stool and tried to hug the man. The man pushed him back.  Frank dropped his money again. A woman picked it up and tried to hand it back to Frank, but the man tried to grab the money. When Frank pushed the man’s hand away, the man grabbed Frank by the throat and pushed Frank backwards tripping over his stool and falling down a couple of steps. Some people helped Frank back to his feet and he got back on his stool. He sat at the bar for another half hour and then called his caretaker saying he was hurt. When she arrived, she called 911 and was shocked that no one in the bar hadn’t already done so. Frank was taken to Tacoma General where they said he had a concussion and a broken hip. Doctors felt he was not strong enough to survive the surgery he needed as a result of his injuries. He died two days later becoming the eighth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

This is the second Tacoma homicide to take place on McKinley Avenue in 2021.

In October prosecutors decided not to press any charges in the killing of Frank Hahn.

According to people who knew him, Frank was a peaceful guy who enjoyed going to the bar about once a month and playing pull tabs. It’s why he tended to carry cash on him. Frank was a character. He was someone who was fun to be around and people enjoyed his company. He wasn’t someone you forgot about.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Frank and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

  • Jack Cameron

7th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Mariela Vargas-Brown

It was a nice night on April 6, 2021. On that early spring evening 29-year-old Mariela Vargas-Brown was doing what a lot of people in Tacoma do. She was driving her car on the waterfront road of Ruston Way at around 10:30pm when someone shot at her car hitting her. Her car crashed into a pole. She crawled out of her car and died on the scene becoming the seventh Tacoma homicide this year.

It’s eight months later and this homicide has yet to be solved and the full circumstances of the crime remain unknown. CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to her killer’s capture and conviction. Callers can remain anonymous. Read more about that here.

Mari was a phlebotomist. Her job was drawing blood from children. She loved working with children and genuinely enjoyed life. People close to her say that the only thing that makes sense is that she was hit by a stray bullet as she did not have any enemies that they are aware of.

Any time someone is murdered, it impacts those who knew the victim, but it is especially difficult to deal with the grief when the circumstances of their death remain a mystery. Murders like this are often solved by someone who knows something finally giving authorities the piece of information they need to find the person responsible.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Mari and want to share thoughts or memories of her.

  • Jack Cameron

6th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Andrew Craig Schoolmaster

On the morning of March 14, 2021 in the 4400 block of South 49th Street, the 43-year-old wife of 55-year-old Andrew Craig Schoolmaster knocked on her neighbor’s door. She had been shot. Her wounds were non-life threatening. When first responders arrived she explained that she had shot her husband multiple times. He was taken to a local hospital where he died the next day becoming Tacoma’s sixth homicide of 2021 and the second homicide domestic violence related homicide this year.

The full circumstances around the death of Andrew Schoolmaster are not known and his wife has not been charged with any crime at this time.

Andrew grew up with a father who was in the Air Force. So they moved around a lot. Like his father, he also joined the Air Force. Also, like his father he was a bit of a gear head. The two of them would sometimes go to car shows. Andrew liked to drive fast. His most prized possession was his 1970 Oldsmobile. After the Air Force, he became a diesel mechanic. He and his wife had four children.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Andrew and want to share thoughts of memories of him.

  • Jack Cameron

5th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Terrance Paige

In the early morning hours of February 6, 2021, Terrance Paige was hanging out with his brother and two friends at the Gatekeepers after-hours club in the 3600 block of McKinley Avenue located on the second floor of the building. There were about fifty people inside. At around 2:00am Terrance got into an argument with a 21-year-old man. Terrance’s brother and his friend decided to leave. As they left, Terrance said something to the man and the man pulled out a gun and opened fire. He shot Terrance and three other individuals. Paramedics found Terrance at the bottom of the stairs, performed CPR, but were unable to revive him. Terrance is the fifth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

The man responsible for the shooting was arrested in March of 2021.

After-hours clubs have been a problem in Tacoma for years and a frequent location for homicides. The Gatekeepers Club had been warned repeatedly to shut down as they had no license to operate, but the owner ignored these requests.

I was unable to find out much about Terrance’s life. This is often the case when someone has a common name or a small online presence. This is one of the reasons that the comments section exists and is moderated and reserved for family and friends of Terrance to share thoughts and memories about him.

  • Jack Cameron

4th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Shane Kolowitz

On January 28, 2021, Shane Kolowitz drove his pregnant girlfriend and their friend to meet up with a teen who had offered to sell them acid. When they arrived, the teen pointed a gun at Shane and the two struggled over the gun before Shane drove away. The teen fired two or three shots at the fleeing car. Police believe another gunman also fired shots at the car. When Shane got to the corner of South 27th and Yakima, the teen’s 13-year-old brother opened fire. One bullet hit Shane in the neck. First responders found Shane slumped behind the steering wheel. He’d later die of his wounds at the hospital becoming the fourth Tacoma homicide this year and the third drug related homicide this year. Shane Kolowitz was sixteen years old.

Those responsible for Shane’s death were arrested a short time later.

In Middle School Shane was part of the Hands on Horses program and seemed to have a natural rapport with them. His favorite horse was named Hercules. He had family and friends who cared deeply for him.

It’s impossible to know what sort of life Shane might have had if he had not been murdered. One’s actions when they are teenagers rarely show us what sort of adult one is going to be. His child will grow up having never known his father. There is a GoFundMe set up to pay for the costs of Shane’s funeral and other expenses. You can find it at this link.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Shane who want to share thoughts of memories of him.

  • Jack Cameron

3rd Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Kieyree ‘Kie’ Spencer

On the evening of January 18, 2021, 22-year-old Kieyree Spencer, Kie, to his friends, sat in a Honda Accord with snother young man in the parking lot of the gas station on South 15th and Sprague. There was 35 grams of marijuana in the car that they intended to sell. Kie was in the driver’s seat. Four young men approached them. One of them opened fire, hitting both Kie and his passenger multiple times. The young men then ran away, got into a Chevy Malibu, and drove off. The man in the passenger seat managed to make it into the convenience store attached to the gas station and ask for help, but by the time first responders arrived, Kie was dead. Kieyree Spencer is the third Tacoma homicide of 2021.

The men responsible for Kie’s death were arrested and charged with his murder. They admit that they had no intention of paying for the marijuana. They were there to rob them, but after they opened fire they ran without anything to show for it.

Kai was a charismatic and fun loving guy. He enjoyed sports and especially loved the water. He was the sort of guy who had an infectious smile. And his life was just beginning.

It’s all too easy for some to ignore homicides that involve drug deals gone bad, but to do so ignores the humanity of our fellow citizens. Kai was 22 years old. And while we know the circumstances of his death, we will never know what he could have been. That has been stolen from us. And his friends and family have a grief that will never fully go away.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Kai and want to share thoughts of memories of him.

  • Jack Cameron

2nd Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Tracy Baker

Tracy Baker had gotten off work early on the evening of January 12, 2021. He worked as a security guard. Having the time, the 36-year-old went to Walmart to pick up things for his family. While he was there he encountered a 27-year-old man pretending to be a security guard who got angry when Tracy questioned whether he was legitimate. The man got in Tracy’s face and taunted him. Tracy tried to defuse the situation, at one point putting the man in a ‘bear hug’ to stop him. Then Tracy decided to leave the store, but the man followed him outside into the parking lot and punched him. Tracy responded and by the time the actual Walmart security guard had shown up and separated the two, the 27-year-old man had stabbed Tracy eight times with a pocketknife. Tracy leaned on the hood of his car and died on the scene before paramedics could arrive becoming the second Tacoma homicide of 2021.

I don’t need to wonder what sort of man Tracy was because his life showed it. He was a military veteran who made a career out of protecting people. In October of 2020 he made news when in the course of his job as a security guard, he interrupted and stopped a man who was sexually assaulting a woman outside an apartment complex in Seattle.  Tracy’s family tell how Tracy was always someone to put others before himself. It was literally his job.

Tracy’s family has put together a GoFundMe to pay for Tracy’s funeral expenses and other associated costs. You can donate here.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Tracy Baker who want to share thoughts or memories of Tracy.

  • Jack Cameron

First Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Stephanie Chaipis

On January 10, 2021, 27-year-old Stephanie Chaipis’s husband of ten years had done methamphetamine. He started yelling and arguing with her in their home in the 5600 block of South Park Avenue. Their four children who ranged in ages between 1 and 8 years old were all home. The argument became physical. He pushed her into a wall, causing her to hit her head. He slapped her face bloody. He hit her again and again all over her body. She became dizzy. Their oldest child witnessed this.  Eventually he went online to look at side effects of head trauma. Finally, after hours of abuse, he called 911. Stephanie was taken to the hospital where she was declared brain dead. She died five days later becoming Tacoma’s first homicide of 2021. She was eight weeks pregnant.

I wasn’t able to find a lot of information about Stephanie Chaipis, but what I can tell you is that she absolutely loved her children. Her photos from social media show her having fun with her kids. They have big smiles around her and she had a smile for them.

It is unimaginable what her children who she cared so much about are going through now with both parents gone thanks to the careless, cruel, and terrible actions of their father.

Domestic violence is a common cause for homicide. More often than not, it is the wife who is killed. Often it seems as though there is no way out. It is all too easy for someone outside of the situation to say, ‘just get out’, but it is rarely so simple in reality. If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Stephanie and want to share any thoughts and memories of her.

  • Jack Cameron