Category Archives: Tacoma Crime

Second Tacoma Homicide of 2018 Jawuan Swift

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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

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First Tacoma Homicide of 2018 Michael Bender

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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

Tenth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: James Timmons

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In the early morning hours of November 4th, 45-year-old James Timmons was on the hunt. He was looking for a Pokemon. James had been playing the smartphone game, Pokemon Go for a while now. It was a common occurrence to see him in the neighborhood taking a walk looking for a rare Pokemon. A little after two in the morning near South 66th and Tyler, James encountered someone with a gun. Neighbors report hearing gunshots around 2:25am. When the paramedics arrived James Timmons was already dead becoming the TKth Tacoma homicide this year. He was three blocks from his house.

James worked odd jobs and volunteered 20 hours a week managing the Mount Tahoma High School concessions stand where he was well known and well liked. He had an innocence about him and a genuine desire to help and engage with others.

Two months before his death James’ grandmother died. His mother died only a month before James’ murder. He had been staying a friend’s house for the last few months, but he was doing what he could to get by. I can imagine in such circumstances how escaping into a game like Pokemon Go would be a temporary relief. This murder is as senseless as any I have written up in the last eleven years.

At the time of this writing Tacoma police have not announced any suspect information, have not arrested anyone, and are asking for the public’s help. If anyone has any information on this murder, Pierce County Crime Stoppers are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and charges in this case. You can contact them at 1-800-222-8477.

A crowdfunding campaign has been created to pay for James’ memorial. If you’d like to help, here is the link: https://www.youcaring.com/rhondastinsonandmounttahomaboosterclub-1002491 I have talked to families who do these crowdfunding campaigns. Every donation is meaningful. If you are looking for a direct way to help someone, this is it.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for family and friends who knew James Timmons and want to share stories, memories, or other positive thoughts about him.

– Jack Cameron

Ninth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Daquan Foster

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It was near closing time at the nightclub Latitude 84 in the 8400 block of South Hosmer. Around 1:40am on Sunday October 29th, 22-year-old Daquan Foster and his wife stepped out of the nightclub with a couple of friends. They had a young child at home and were enjoying a night out. A couple of men approached them in the parking lot. One of the men hit Daquan in the face. Daquan’s wife tried to break up the fight. The other man pulled out a gun. At this point Daquan and his wife ran. Over the next few seconds seventeen shots were fired. Daquan’s wife was hit once. Daquan was hit multiple times. Daquan died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s ninth homicide this year.

Police caught up to the alleged shooter in Kent a few days later. He has been arrested and charged with second degree murder. The man who punched Daquan was also arrested this past Monday. Daquan’s wife is going to survive her injuries.

This is the first homicide in the Hosmer area in two years, but it is an area known for violent crime.

Daquan was originally from New York, but was an active duty private at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM), bringing him to Tacoma. He had been in the military eleven months. He was known as a good family man. This should have been the beginning of a good life for him. My thoughts are with his wife, child, and extended family and friends. May she have a quick recovery and all the support that she needs.

As always, the comments section is reserved for people who knew Daquan to share memories and thoughts. I am sorry for your loss. All comments are moderated and approved before they are posted.

–  Jack Cameron

Eighth Tacoma Homicide of 2017 Maria Levy

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77-year old Maria Levy loved the opera. When she worked at opera companies in San Diego and Connecticut. From 2002 to 2012 she was the Executive Administrator at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera & Ballet. In 2012 she moved to Tacoma to be closer to her son and two grandsons. She lived with them in her penthouse apartment at 1 St. Helens. Still feeling the call of the opera, she then became the Artistic Administrator of the Tacoma Opera. She was known as someone who always wanted to help people.

Sometime early Monday October 16th, something happened in Maria’s apartment. Maria’s 49-year-old son called police at around 5:30am. Her son claims that he heard his mother screaming in her bedroom and confronted an intruder who had attacked his mother. He could not describe the intruder and his story did not match up with the evidence. There were also indications that her son had tried to clean up some blood. He was wearing a t-shirt with a sweater pulled over it, but had blood stains on the t-shirt. And there was no evidence of anyone entering or leaving the penthouse apartment. Prosecutors allege that her son beat his mother in the head and neck with a broken liquor bottle then strangled her leaving Maria dead in her bedroom while her two grandsons slept in the next room. They further allege that when he realized he couldn’t clean it up, he made up a story of an intruder.

Maria’s son has been arrested and charged with second degree murder. This is the Eighth Tacoma homicide this year. It is also the first Tacoma homicide in which a son murdered his mother since the 2011 murder of Jacqueline Hensler. Every time someone dies in this city this community suffers a loss. When it’s someone like Maria Levy that loss is all the more obvious. My thoughts are with her young grandsons, the rest of her family and her coworkers and friends. Tacoma had the pleasure of Maria’s presence for far too short a time.

As always, the comments section is moderated. It is reserved for those who knew Maria and want to share thoughts or memories of her. Any negative comments are deleted.
– Jack Cameron

Third Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Audreyanna Newell

20170915_151347From time to time I fail to report a Tacoma homicide. It is never intentional. If a homicide happens in the city of Tacoma, I write about it. But sometimes I miss one due to my own inattention or a lack of media coverage. Audreyanna Newell was a 29 years old. Years ago her she sang Christmas carols with her mother on a airplane flight. More recently she lost her brother and grandmother. Like many people, she turned to drugs to numb the pain. The drugs caused mental problems. As 2017 began Audreyanna was a beautiful young woman with a diagnosed mental illness struggling with drugs and homelessness. She was incredibly vulnerable. Audreyanna was released from a Seattle jail on January 17th.

Two days later she met a 26-year-old man. They bought two six packs of beer at a convenience store in Seattle. They then took the Link Light Rail to Sea-Tac where they got in the man’s car and drove to 5800 block of Marine View Drive in Northeast Tacoma. At around 6:30pm someone reported hearing a gunshot. The next morning a man walking his dog found Audreyanna’s body in a gravel area on Marine View Drive. She’d been shot once in the back of the head.

Some beer and the bag from the convenience store was found near her. Police traced the beer to the convenience store where they obtained video footage of the two. They identified the 26-year-old man and charged him with second degree murder.

Audreyanna’s death was the third Tacoma homicide this year. She is also one of two homicides this year of homeless individuals. Being homeless exposes people to all sorts of potential dangers. Unfortunately one of those dangers is meeting up with violent individuals willing to take advantage of a homeless person’s vulnerability.

The 26-year-old man responsible for Audreyanna’s murder pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 18 years, 4 months in prison. Audreyanna’s mother said to her daughter’s killer, ““I have an idea that you will never be the same again and I hope that this will be the defining moment in your life and that you will rise from this occasion with a new direction and a new purpose for living,” Such kindness and forgiveness is awe inspiring.

I would like to extend a personal apology to the family and friends of Audreyanna Newell for my failure to write about her death sooner. As always the comment section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of the victim who want to share thoughts or memories of Audreyanna. All other comments will be deleted.

– Jack Cameron

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Frankie Santos

Sunday afternoon neighbors near the 5600 block of South Lawrence Street called 911 because 58-year-old Frankie Santos was behaving erratically and had a handgun. When police arrived, Frankie was yelling. The three officers told him to drop the handgun. Instead he fired the handgun in their direction. All three officers responded by opening fire on Frankie Santos. Frankie was dead before the paramedics arrived.

Frankie Santos is the seventh Tacoma homicide this year. It is the first police involved shooting in Tacoma this year. The use of lethal force by police officers is always problematic, but when they are dealing with an armed individual firing a gun, their viable options quickly become limited.

I was not able to find much online about Frankie Santos. I could not tell you why he was behaving the way he was or how or why he had a gun in his hand. What I can say is that this final incident of Frankie’s life is not all that Frankie was. In his 58 years of life he had friends and family. He had people he cared about and people who cared about him. If there is one thing I have come to believe in eleven years of covering Tacoma’s homicides, it is that we are not our worst actions. We are much more than that. More to the point, the loss of a life does not just mean the end for Frankie Santos, it means a hole in the lives of the people who knew him.

It is all too easy to look at a police involved shooting of an armed man firing a gun and act as though it were a movie or a television show where the ‘bad guy’ got what was coming to him. The reality is someone’s son is dead. And while I would not condemn anyone for returning fire at someone shooting at them, I also will not pretend that Frankie Santos losing his life has no meaning.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Frankie and want to share remembrances of him. If you knew Frankie and have a photo of him, you would like me to share on this page, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron