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.
On the evening of December 3, 2020 two men approached the homeless encampment on 6th and M Street looking to cause trouble. One of them lived a block away and blamed a resident of the encampment for his car recently being broken into and was looking for some payback carrying a piece of wood. The other had a pistol. They admit that their intent was to get the entire encampment of over a dozen tents full of unhoused individuals to move through violent force. The man with the piece of wood started swinging at tents with no regard to who was inside them. When encampment resident 38-year-old Patrick Nathan Shenaurlt heard the commotion he grabbed the only weapon he had, a BB gun and confronted the two men. The man with the gun saw the BB gun and shot Patrick twice in the back, killing him. Patrick is the 30th Tacoma homicide of 2020.
Tacoma has always had a significant homeless population and these days it is significantly bad due to an influx of new residents willing to pay rents that many long-time residents cannot afford. This has led to multiple encampments popping up throughout the city. They tend to last for a few months and then are cleared out by police and reappear somewhere else in the city. These temporary communities offer both safety and danger. And while there is increased crime where these encampments appear, it’s important to note that the most likely victims of these crimes are other homeless individuals.
Patrick had been homeless since 2013. He was someone who gravitated towards the role of protector in whatever company he was in. Outspoken and compassionate, it would not surprise anyone who knew him to see him standing up to a couple of adult bullies who, at the time Patrick confronted them had already injured two women inside a tent.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Patrick and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
It was a late night in a motel in the 8800 block of Hosmer on December 1, 2020. People had been entering and leaving one particular room all night. At one point the man who rented the room noticed that thirty Percocet pills were missing and ordered that the ten people in the room remain there until the missing pills were found. He asked a 33-year-old man for assistance. When the renter of the room accused32-+year-old Joshua Moore-Hughes of stealing the pills, Joshua took offense as he knew he was innocent of the theft. The 33-year-old told him to watch his mouth. Joshua said, ‘Watch my mouth?’ at which point, the 33-year-old shot him with a 9mm pistol. The people in the room scattered and were largely uncooperative when police later questioned them. The 33-year-old was soon taken into custody while Joshua was taken to the hospital where he later died becoming the 29th Tacoma homicide of 2020.
Hosmer is a street notorious for crime. Major crimes happen in the area on a weekly if not daily basis. And it is all too easy for someone to look at the things that happen there and pretend that they don’t matter because it’s a high crime area that law abiding citizens tend to avoid. This viewpoint dehumanizes our fellow citizens and ignores the fact that a human being is more than their worst actions, more than their worst decisions, more than their circumstances. And perhaps, more importantly, everyone has loved ones who never did anything to deserve the grief they now have thanks to the unnecessary loss of a loved one.
Joshua had a large family who cared deeply about him. He had the sort of laugh that would make others laugh even if they didn’t know what he was laughing about. He spoke up about injustice and cared about others.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Joshua and want to share any thoughts or memories of him.
In the early morning hours of November 27th, 55-year-old Gregory Evans was talking to a 42-year-old acquaintance near his vehicle in the 2000 block of East 60th Street when a light gray Dodge Charger with black wheels slowly rolled up. Inside the car were two Black men in their twenties. One had light skin and a pony tail. The other had darker skin with his hair in twists. When they opened fire they hit both Gregory and the man standing next to him. Gregory died of his wounds while the other man survived.
Nearly a year later this crime remains unsolved. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrests of the men responsible for this crime. Find out more details at this link. You can also anonymously call in information at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477)
Gregory is the 28th Tacoma homicide of 2020. Any homicide is a tragedy, but unsolved homicides that seem random and senseless and perhaps more infuriating than others in that there is no justice and nowhere to place blame until those responsible are caught.
Unfortunately I was unable to discover much about Gregory Evans’s life. This is often the case when an individual lacks much of an online presence and/or has a fairly common first and last name. In circumstances like this, I especially hope that those who knew Gregory will share thoughts and memories of their lost loved one. If anyone has a photo of Gregory they’d like to share for this article, please reach out to me at email@example.com .
Scott Jonathon Univer was not doing well. The 40-year-old had been struggling with mental illness and on the morning of November 15, 2020 he was in an apartment parking lot. He had on him multiple IDs that were not his. A 33-year-old man approached him. The two got into an argument that turned into a fistfight. Then the 33-year-old pulled out a pistol and shot Scott in the chest. Police arrived and attempted CPR, but Scott died on the scene becoming Tacoma’s 27th homicide of 2020.
Scott was known in his family as a sweet, kind, and loving man who often asked how others in his family were doing. He was someone who loved to play with children. And he was something who struggled a lot. There is a void in the lives of those who knew and loved Scott. It’s not something that goes away, but something they’ll eventually learn to live with.
Mental illness is an invisible disease that impacts so many. Not only the person suffering from the illness, not just those who know and care about the person, but those who encounter that person as well. All too often when I write about Tacoma homicides they involve an individual suffering from mental illness. And each time I imagine a better world where mental health care is as easy and readily available as a pack of gum.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Scott and want to share thoughts or memories of him. I was also unable to find a photo of him. If you have one you’d like to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
43-year-old James ‘Jimmy’ Wamsley was at a friend’s home in the 7600 block of South J Street on the evening of October 1st, 2020. The house was a known drug house with frequent visitors. One person who lived there said there were twenty to thirty people in and out of the house every day. There were seven people in the bedroom when Jimmy was accosted by another 42-year-old who accused him of harming a woman they both knew. Jimmy denied it. The argument soon became physical and the 42-year-old shot Jimmy once in the chest before leaving.
Twelve minutes elapsed between the time Jimmy was shot and the time someone in the house called 9-1-1. When asked who had been at the house, no one mentioned the name of the gunman. Once police had secured the scene, paramedics arrived, but he was pronounced dead at the scene becoming Tacoma’s 25th homicide victim this year.
It would be over three months before police caught up to the man who shot Jimmy. There is no evidence that anything the gunman said about him was true.
Friends and family say that Jimmy was larger than life and a loyal friend. He was the sort of person who believed that family didn’t have to be blood related. He had a great laugh. He had a rough upbringing and got into his share of trouble, but most remember him as a guy always willing to help out. At the time of this writing, Jimmy has been gone almost a full year, but for those who knew him, the hurt is still very fresh like it is for so many people who knew victims of homicide.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Jimmy and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
Christian Martinez was looking forward to seeing his friend who had recently been released from prison in the early morning hours of Friday, September 25th. They had known each other since they were six years old. They had both joined the same gang. Christian had decided to leave the gang, but still wanted to see his friend. Christian was in the passenger seat of his van while a female friend of his drove. They were going to meet up with his buddy at a convenience store and eventually settled on a convenience store in the 3900 block of East Portland Avenue. It was just after one in the morning when they pulled up.
The driver of the van got out of the vehicle to go inside the store. Christian stayed in the van, but rolled down the passenger side window when he saw his old friend approaching. Christian said, “What’s up?” and began to reach his hand out to shake hands when his old friend pulled out a handgun and fired three times before running away. The driver of the vehicle had just been entering the store the she heard the gunshots and Christian yelling that they needed to leave. She returned to the van and saw that he’d been shot in the neck. She drove Christian to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died from his wounds becoming the 24th Tacoma homicide of 2020.
The following Monday, police caught up to his friend near a hotel on Hosmer and arrested him after a short chase. Their investigation found that higher ups in the gang had demanded Christian’s friend kill him for leaving the gang.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find much information about Christian online. If friends or relatives have a photo they’d like to accompany this article, please contact me at email@example.com
As always the comments section is reserved for family and friends who want to share memories or thoughts about Christian. All comments are moderated before they are posted.
Dylan Coolidge was the kind of kid who made friends wherever he went. He was 19-years-old. While he was in a juvenile facility, he made friends with another kid who was in a rival gang. On the evening of September 21st, Dylan received a message from that friend that he wanted to hang out. Dylan and another friend made their way to South 23rd and M Street not knowing it was a set up. A sedan pulled up. A 15-year-old boy in the passenger seat fired four shots. Dylan and his friend scattered, but Dylan got shot in the abdomen. As the car sped off, Dylan’s friend yelled for neighbors to call 911. Dylan was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died from his wounds. The 15-year-old was eventually arrested and has been charged with first degree murder. Dylan is the twenty-third Tacoma homicide this year.
In the 1990s a shooting like this on Tacoma’s Hilltop would be fairly commonplace, but times have changed and these sorts of shootings are the exceptions rather than the rule. That said, the violence in Tacoma has begun to swing back towards the chaos on the 1990s.
With so many homicides, it’s sometimes difficult to keep in mind how much each one impacts the victim’s friends, family, and surrounding community. And while some people may want to dismiss a drive-by shooting by a rival gang as gang violence, those people should be reminded of the human cost. Dylan was 19-years-old. We’ll never know the kind of man he would have grown up to be. And the people who knew him will never replace his laugh, which was infectious and will never be heard again.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew and liked Dylan Coolidge and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
It was nearly midnight on Friday August 14th when three men in masks approached a homeless camp in the 6600 block of Alaska Avenue. One stood watch while the other two brandished handguns and robbed multiple people. One of those people was 39-year-old Terrence Wilkins. By all accounts Terry, as his friends called him, tried to diffuse the situation and keep people safe. For his heroism, the two men with guns shot him in the chest. He died becoming the twenty-second Tacoma homicide of 2020.
Terrence was an artist and loved to draw. People say he was a loving, caring person who found comfort in his religion, always happy to pray with someone. His absence is felt among his community and his contribution to our city will not be forgotten. Terrence’s killers have yet to be brought to justice.
As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Terry and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
In the early morning hours of August 1st, 25-year-old Ty Jenkins was walking to his car in the Emerald Queen Casino’s South parking lot. Someone approached him and fired multiple shots, killing him. Tribal police were on the scene in minutes and saw someone running away, but the individual could not be located. Ty is the twentieth Tacoma homicide this year.
Ty was from Las Vegas. He came from a loving and close family. He was an eldest son and a father. I wish that I could tell you more about what happened to him, but even months later, the facts of his death remain largely unknown or at least not revealed to the public. As Ty’s murder occurred on tribal land, the FBI is investigating the case.