52-year-old Phyllis Hamilton lived with her two sons (ages 26 and 27) in a house in the 1400 Block of South Madison Street. She was an avid reader and absolutely devoted to her sons.
On the evening of April 29th, something happened inside the house to set off her 27-year-old son. He burst into his brother’s room carrying a shotgun and wearing a bandoleer of shotgun shells. His brother was so afraid that he climbed out the window onto the roof and ran down the alley. The oldest son then set off in his mother’s Cadillac SUV trying to chase down his brother firing at least once.
Police pulled over the SUV and arrested the man. Then they headed back to his mother’s home where they discovered Phyllis Hamilton dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Phyllis is the ninth Tacoma homicide this year.
Phyllis was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness. Friends say she was incredibly sweet.
If there is a pattern in the sharp increase in homicides this year, it is the sheer senselessness of the killings. Again and again I find myself writing about a crime that simply should not have happened.
As always, the comment section is moderated and reserved for friends and family who knew Phyllis and want to share memories.
– Jack Cameron
In the early morning hours of April 23rd, 43-year-old James ‘Jimmy’ Mureness was at a bus stop in the 2900 block of East D Street with a friend when a 23-year-old man in a hoodie approached them. Hours earlier the man had fired multiple shots into his ceiling. Police were called, but he had left by then. The man in the hoodie said nothing to Jimmy and his friend and left, then came back moments later and shot them both before running away.
Jimmy’s friend survived. Jimmy wasn’t so lucky. Jimmy Mureness is the eighth Tacoma homicide this year.
Police caught up with the shooter later that same evening. He shot himself in the forehead, but only received minor injuries from the shot. After being treated for his injuries, he was arrested and charged with first degree murder and first degree attempted murder.
Statements made by the shooter were inconsistent and contradictory, calling his mental well being into question, but whatever the explanation, the loss of life is still devastating for his friends and family.
Jimmy’s family lives in upstate New York. They have a GoFundMe set up to offset costs of having his body and belongings shipped back east. You can donate here:
As always, the comment section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Jimmy and want to share memories of him.
– Jack Cameron
Forty-two year old Daniel Stueart was known to his friends as Danny Rasher. On April 13th, around 7:30pm Danny was at a homeless encampment in the 9900 block of Steele Street when he encountered someone with a gun. The gunfire alerted others who contacted authorities. Danny had already died by the time first responders arrived. Danny became the sixth Tacoma homicide this year.
I could not find much information about Danny. His Facebook page says he attended John Brown University studying psychology. He then attended the University of Arkansas but left for a job. He had at least one child. A son. Other than that, I wasn’t able to find much more. Not that more information would ever complete a full picture of who Danny was to his friends and family.
Typically Tacoma averages about one homicide a month. This is our sixth in just over three months, nearly double our typical rate over the last ten years. The reasons for this increase are difficult to discern. We’ve experienced an increase in population, our police department is underfunded, and any number of other factors may be to blame. What is clear is more people are being murdered in Tacoma than usual and each of them impacts the community.
Danny’s murder remains unsolved. Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever killed Danny. You can use the P3 Tips App on your smart phone to anonymously submit the information, or call the hot line at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477)
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew and loved Danny.
Thirty-four-year-old Gerald Antonio Bryant Jr. and a 21-year-old friend of his were drinking and play fighting in front of his friend’s apartment. The play fighting soon became argumentative. His friend’s mother, noticing her son’s level of intoxication asked him to come back into his apartment, but both he and Gerald remained angry at each other. Over his mother’s and brother’s objections, the man grabbed the keys to his Volkswagen Jetta and ran outside. He got into the vehicle and then ran Gerald over multiple times before fleeing.
Gerald was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and placed on life support where he remained for the few days until he died becoming the fifth Tacoma homicide this year. The man who ran him over was arrested a few days after the incident and has been charged with second degree murder.
Gerald graduated from the same high school as I did. Growing up, he worked on cars and did yard work with his grandfather. He was shy as a kid until he got into sports. Basketball, football, wrestling – he tried almost everything. He developed a larger than life personality with a smile that was infectious. Shortly after high school, his first child was born. Over the next few years he’d have six more. No matter what he was up to, he did his best to make sure he had Dad time. If a friend’s car broke down, he’d be with him under the hood. He’s gone now thanks to a senseless murder, but those who knew him will never forget him.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew and loved Gerald. If they want to share thoughts or stories of Gerald, this is a place to do it.
In the early morning hours of March 12th, 40-year-old William Harris was in an apartment in the 300 block of South 9th Street. He noticed another 40-year-old man looking at pornography on a computer. It appeared to William to be child pornography. He decided to say something about it to the man. This led to an argument that soon got physical. The other man stomped and kicked William. He choked him with his own coat. At some point in the fight, the apartment door came off its hinges. A neighbor heard the commotion and stepped into the hallway to investigate, finding the other man covered in blood. The man lunged at the neighbor who then pepper sprayed him.
When police arrived around 1am, they found the other man speaking incoherently and standing over Harris who was not breathing. Police administered CPR. William was taken to St. Joseph’s hospital where he was pronounced dead.
William is the fourth Tacoma homicide this year. He was homeless at the time of his death. I was unable to find out much information about him quite frankly because he has a very common name. I wish I had more information to share because one of the purposes of this site is to give a fuller picture of the person this city has lost. Every death matters. When that death is the cause of someone else’s senseless actions, it is all the more terrible.
As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew William to share thoughts or memories. Also if someone who knew William wants to provide a photo of him for this post, I’ll be happy to include that.
– Jack Cameron
It couldn’t go on like this. Mary Hoffer knew that the fights with her boyfriend had to stop. It was constant. Neighbors in the apartment building in the 800 block of South 8th Street had become used to the yelling, the screams, the things breaking. It had to stop. She told her coworkers that she would meet up with them on January 4th, Friday night after she sat down and had a civilized talk with her 37-year-old boyfriend.
Mary never showed Friday night. She didn’t answer phone calls. She wasn’t online. When she didn’t answer her door on Saturday, her coworkers called the police. Police arrived and found Mary dead. She had been beaten and strangled becoming the first Tacoma homicide this year. They also found her boyfriend dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The two of them were from Warsaw, Indiana. Mary was known to be a generous person. In 2015 she organized a GoFundMe for someone who had lost everything. My thoughts go out to her family and to all who knew this couple. Death has a way of rippling through the lives of those still living. It’s impossible to estimate the impact someone makes until they are gone.
As always the comments section is reserved for those who knew Mary who might want to share any thoughts or memories of her.
44-year-old LaMont ‘Monty’ Rushton had been homeless for a while, but like most homeless individuals he was trying to get it together. His six-year-old son was being raised by Monty’s mother. He wanted to get him back. He thought that maybe he would go up to Alaska and work on a fishing boat. Dangerous work, but everyone knew stories of someone who knew someone who went there for a season and came back with thousands. Maybe he’d make friends up there. He was a friendly guy. People tended to like him. This was just temporary.
It was Thursday, December 14th, a little after 11:30pm in downtown Tacoma. Monty was walking near South 26th and A Street when he spotted a young man taking a smoke break and asked him for a smoke. The young man handed him a smoke. Monty thanked the young man and walked on until he was confronted by a 29-year-old man. It was dark. The young man was at least 30 feet away. He heard Monty say, “Please don’t.” It appeared to the young man like the other man had challenged Monty to a fight and Monty had declined. Monty wasn’t a fighter. The other man ran away.
Monty headed towards the young man asking for help. Not realizing Monty was injured the young man initially ignored him. When he got closer the young man realized Monty had been stabbed multiple times in the chest and leg. The young man and his coworkers contacted paramedics and tried to help him, but Monty died a half hour after getting to the hospital becoming Tacoma’s fifteenth homicide this year.
A few days later, Monty’s killer was arrested at a nearby homeless camp. A large knife was found in the man’s tent. This is the second homeless killing in downtown Tacoma in the last month. And with any luck, the last killing this year.
As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of Monty to share memories or thoughts about Monty. All comments are moderated and approved before they appear.