It was just after 1:00am early Saturday morning on January 27th. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales and his 15-year-old best friend waited in the alley behind his best friend’s girlfriend’s house in the 5100 block of South Oakes Street. Hector had a baseball bat. The plan was that his best friend’s girlfriend had invited an acquaintance over. They knew this acquaintance had marijuana. Their plan was to rob him and take it.
The acquaintance came to the house expecting to have sex with the girl, but when he got there his gun fell out of his pocket. The girl told him to leave and texted her boyfriend to warn him about the gun. The acquaintance exited the house and was attacked. He was hit several times with the bat before pulling out his gun and firing one shot. The shot hit Hector Gonzales in the chest. The acquaintance ran away tossing the gun in some nearby bushes. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s third Tacoma homicide of 2018. Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Hector’s killer as it was deemed self-defense.
Whenever a teenager is murdered regardless of the circumstances it is a tragedy. In this case, it is difficult to see anything but tragedy. It is every parent’s nightmare. There is no one in this story you want to imagine your child being. And for four families, it is not imagination, but hard, cruel reality. Teenagers are not fully formed people. They have not figured out who they are yet. We do not know and will never know who Hector Gonzales would have turned out to be. Hector’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign in his name.
As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim. The comment section is moderated and I personally approve each comment before it shows. If you are a friend or family of the victim and would like to get in touch with me privately, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Jack Cameron
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
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
38-year-old Jeremy Martin returned home in 1400 block of South 37th Street around 1:30am on December 5th . Jeremy was shot multiple times shortly after arriving home. Someone in a large puffy coat was seen leaving the home shortly after the gunshots. That person got into a waiting vehicle and left. Jeremy was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he died hours later becoming the eleventh homicide this year for the city of Tacoma.
This is the extent of information available on the last hours of Jeremy Martin. I had waited in the hopes that more information would come to light, but sadly, none has. Pierce County Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for this murder. Anyone with information on this murder is asked to call 800-222-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous.
Jeremy would have turned 39 on Christmas Day. In a Facebook post made less than a month before his death, Jeremy wrote: “If I die tommorrow I did everything I said I was gonna do except a couple of things lol!” It’s clear that Jeremy did his best to live his life to the fullest. It is tragic that his life has been cut short.
Killings where there is nearly no information are in some ways the most heartbreaking. For most, this is merely another homicide in a city that has about a dozen homicides a year. But for family and friends, especially during this season, their world has changed in a way not thought possible. It simultaneously feels unreal and all too real. The lack of information about something so personally catastrophic can be maddening. Jeremy Martin now lives in their memories. His friends and family have my deepest sympathies.
As always, the comments section is moderated with each comment needing approval and is reserved for the friends and family of the victim to share thoughts or memories of Jeremy with the rest of us.
Here’s hoping this is the last of the Tacoma homicides for 2017.
– Jack Cameron
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 tenth 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
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
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