Twenty-seven year old Emmalee Masker sat in a car with a seventy-one year old man she had known for the better part of a decade. It was January 16th. The weekend. They sat in the parking lot in the 4800 block of Tacoma Mall Blvd. The one with a Mexican restaurant on one side and Chuck E. Cheese on the other.
Over the years the man had given her money when she needed it. But the man was out of money. In fact he had recently declared bankruptcy. This was apparently too much for the man. He pulled a pistol and shot Emmalee multiple times. Then he shot himself in the head.
Emmalee Masker was dead when police arrived. She was the third Tacoma homicide this year and the second to be shot and killed. Neither Emmalee or the man who killed her were married. The details of their relationship are likely known only to them. Anything else is speculation.
Emmalee liked turtles. She would post images of them that she liked on Pinterest. She did the same thing with interesting nail designs. It’s difficult to get a feel for what a person was like in life simply by looking at what they left behind online, but for those who knew and loved Emmalee she has left behind so much more. There is an echo left when a loved one dies. It is the sort of thing that is hard to fully grasp until one has the misfortune to experience it. Like everyone, Emmalee was more than simply what we find of her. And like everyone who is murdered, we have lost the chance to find out what more she could have been.
As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of Emmalee who might want to share thoughts or memories of her. All comments are moderated and approved by me before they appear.
– Jack Cameron
Steven Dedeaux Jr began his 31st and final birthday at an after hours club in the 3800 block of South Yakima Avenue. The club had two armed guards. They patted down everyone as they came in. Steven was inside the club and armed. Some patrons were allowed to carry weapons, but if the bouncers did not know them, weapons were not allowed.
Around 3:30am Steven noticed that someone he knew was having trouble at the door. The security guards were detaining him after finding a weapon on him. They had gotten one of his wrists in handcuffs when Steven yelled at them to let the man go. When they didn’t, Steven drew his gun and pointed it at them threatening to shoot if they did not let the man go. Instead the security guards opened fire, shooting Steven. One of the security guards was shot in the hand. The man in one cuff ran off.
Steven was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was later died becoming the second homicide victim this year.
This was not the first incident at this after-hours motorcycle club. Michael Ward Jr. was killed here back in 2014.
Unfortunately I was not able to find very much information on Steven Dedeaux Jr. This is often the case with homicide victims and one of the reasons that the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew the victim and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
– 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.
Evitan De Biaso
The plan seemed simple enough. A 16-year-old offered to sell a gun to a 13-year-old he smoked pot with a few weeks ago. The deal was to go down December 9th. The 16-year-old had no gun to sell. He was bringing three friends with him and they were going to rob the kid. According to charging papers, two of those friends were 19-year-old Evitan De Biaso and 21-year-old Deonte Mitchner. The third friend stayed in the car with Deonte’s two young children. Evitan and Deonte hid in bushes in an alley near the 1300 block of East 35th street.
Things did not go according to plan. The 16-year-old led the 13-year-old to the ambush, but the 13-year-old brought a friend. When Evitan and Deonte jumped out, the 13-year-old ran with the 16-year-old chasing him. The 16-year-old heard gunshots and knew that neither of his friends had guns. Around 4:50pm Tacoma police found both Evitan and Deonte dead of gunshot wounds. Evitan and Deonte become the thirteenth and fourteenth Tacoma homcides this year. The 16-year-old and the driver have been arrested. The unidentified shooter remains at large. People with knowledge of the incident are asked to call the Tacoma Police Department at 253-591-5968.
If TacomaStories has a theme it is to echo Bryan Stevenson’s “We are more than the worst things we’ve done.” Evitan and Deonte were more than these actions. Both men were fathers. Both had loving, caring families. Evitan has a daughter on the way who will never meet her father. Deonte has a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old who will never spend another Christmas with their father. It’s all too easy to judge and discard other people. We do not do that here. I know I have said it before, but every loss of life creates a hole in the lives of countless others.
As always the comments section is reserved for the friends and family of Evitan and Deonte who might want to share any thoughts or memories of them. All comments are moderated and approved before appearing.
It was just after 11pm on December 4th. Some teenagers had pulled off the road in the 3700 block of Marine View Drive in Northeast Tacoma. They were smoking marijuana and passing around a stolen pistol. Seventeen-year-old was in the driver’s seat of the Toyota Camry. He pulled the clip out of the gun and handed it to his 17-year-old friend in the back. Charging papers say the friend told them that Antonio told him the gun was empty. His friend pointed the gun at the driver’s seat and pulled the trigger. The bullet went through the seat, through, Antonio’s arm and into his torso. Antonio opened the driver’s side door and fell out of the car. The others in the car drove him to his Aunt’s house. When his aunt saw that he had been shot, she told them to take him to the hospital. Antonio later died at the hospital becoming Tacoma’s twelfth homicide this year.
I was not able to find much online about Antonio. He was seventeen years old. So is his friend. His friend’s life will never be the same and Antonio’s life has ended long before it should have. The tragedy of this is as obvious as it is painful. While the tragedy is most felt by friends and family of Antonio, this is a tragedy for all of us because we will never get to see what Antonio could have been. Antonio’s friend has been arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter.
This is the very definition of a homicide that should not have happened. If they hadn’t been playing with a gun, if his friend would have checked for a bullet in the chamber of the pistol, maybe if they’d driven him directly to the hospital, maybe if they hadn’t been smoking marijuana. There are a hundred things we could point at and say it shouldn’t have happened, but none of that changes the reality of the situation. We lost a child. And that matters. I write about these homicides so they will be remembered. We can’t save Antonio, but we can remember him, remember what happened, and hope it doesn’t happen again.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Antonio who might want to share any thoughts or memories about it.
– Jack Cameron
It was just after 9:30pm on Saturday, November 19th. In a parking garage in the 700 block of Commerce Street in downtown Tacoma, two transient acquaintances were talking. One was 33-year-old Jiskoko Sha. Friends called him Jish. The talking became an argument. The argument became physical. At some point the other man pulled a knife. A short time later a passerby found Jiskoko bleeding from a stab wound. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died, becoming Tacoma’s 11th homicide this year.
Police soon arrested the 36-year-old man who stabbed him, but prosecutors declined to press charges and released him pending further investigation.
The parking garage in which this happened is somewhat notorious for criminal activity though this is the first homicide to occur there.
I have been writing about homicides in Tacoma for eleven years and yet I still have difficulty fully explaining just what happens when someone in your life is murdered. Part of the reason for this site is to add a little more depth beyond the news headlines and to remind us that this isn’t just a homeless person getting killed in a bad area. This is a world ending. The world of Jiskoko Shaw is over. The impact of that echoes through the lives of his loved ones. Each of them feels a hole that cannot ever be fully patched. And Jish has been denied any possible future. His Tacoma Story ends here. But his memory remains. And who he was will not be forgotten by those who loved him.
As always the comment section is moderated and reserved for family and friends of Jiskoko Shaw who want to share memories or thoughts about him and his life.
– Jack Cameron