Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

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

Sixth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Oscar Blackwater

blackwaterHis name was Oscar Blackwater. He was 74 years old. He was one of Tacoma’s homeless population. A friend went looking for him Monday morning. His body was found on a trail in the 3500 block of Pacific Avenue. An autopsy would reveal that he died from blunt force trauma to the head and chest. He was beaten to death on the streets of Tacoma.

Oscar’s death is the sixth homicide in Tacoma this year. His murder is the latest incident in a series of assaults and robberies on Tacoma’s homeless population. One victim stated that he was not only beaten and robbed of valuables but they also stole his pants.

The homeless are among our most vulnerable citizens. Tacoma’s homelessness problem is so significant that the city declared a State of Emergency. New efforts to create more sustainable and safe homeless camps has met with mixed results so far.

At the time of this writing police have no information on the suspect or suspects responsible for Oscar’s murder. Anyone with information on Oscar’s death is asked to contact the Tacoma Police Department.

As always, the comments section is monitored and reserved for those who knew Oscar and want to share memories of him.

UPDATE: CrimeStoppers is offering $1,000 reward to information that leads to the conviction of Oscar’s killer. Anyone with information is urged to call 800-222-TIPS (8477).

UPDATE 2: Oscar’s family is trying to bring his body back home to Arizona. They’ve started a GoFundMe to make this happen. https://www.gofundme.com/bring-home-oscar-blackwater

– Jack Cameron

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Kaia Josie Krempl

Kaia Josie Krempl lived a very short, violent life. She was less than five weeks old when her mother died. Police arrived to investigate her death on January 17th. It would later turn out to be a stomach infection. They noticed her newborn twin babies appeared to be sick as well. This was especially true for Kaia.

Kaia arrived at a local hospital in critical condition. She was not just sick. She was severely injured. A CT scan showed a skull fracture with severe brain damage. In addition to her skull, her left shoulder was broken as were a few ribs.

It would be almost two full months before Kaia died from her injuries. Kaia’s brother had also been injured. His injuries were less severe. He recovered. Kaia’s 30-year-old father has pled guilty to her murder and has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Prosecuting papers indicate he used his phone to do an Internet search on what to do when you’ve beaten your baby.*

Homicides like this are difficult to write about both because of the subject matter and because quite often when someone dies months after the incident, it does not make the news. This particular homicide only seemed to be reported when Kaia’s killer was sentenced.

Kaia Josie Krempl is Tacoma’s fiffth homicide this year. Given that the Summer is almost over, our homicide rate is about half of what it was this time last year. Here is hoping it continues to drop.

My thoughts go out to Kaia’s family. I cannot imagine what they are going through and hope they have a chance to heal.

– Jack Cameron

 

*The answer for anyone who found this page using similar search terms is call 911 for paramedics and police, turn yourself in, and get help.

Fourth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Manuel Olmos Jr.

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On the evening of February 9th 32-year-old Manuel Olmos Jr. and a friend were at a fast food restaurant in the 2600 block of North Pearl Street. It was just after 8:30pm and they needed a ride. Manuel offered a 19-year-old man and his friends some money for a ride. This led to an argument. The argument got loud. At one point the 19-year-old said, “You want to get shot?” The manager of the restaurant then asked them all to leave. A few minutes later the manager heard gunshots. Manuel was shot in the neck. He died before he could be transported to the hospital.

Manuel Olmos Jr. is the fourth Tacoma homicide this year. Like the first three homicides it is a killing that makes little sense. While any loss of life is going to create a hole in the lives of dozens of people who knew and loved the victim, it seems especially disheartening when an understandable motive is non-existent.

Manuel’s wife, Megan wrote me and shared this about him )along with the photos in this post):
“Manuel is my husband, he has left behind me(wife), his 3 children ages 18(son), 5(Daughter), and 3(son), his parents, 3 brothers, and countless family and friends. Manuel was amazing, just amazing, a family man to the fullest, would do anything for someone in need and his kids were his world. He was so funny, life of the party very infectious smile and laugh. Words cannot express our loss and the holes we have in our hearts, I’m completely torn up over this and his kids have to spend the majority of their lives without him. Its not fair! But our babies will always know how great he was and much that he loved them.”
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It is the policy of TacomaStories not to mention killers by name. However, when the suspect has been identified but not yet arrested, we will mention him in hopes that a reader may have information that leads to the perpetrator’s arrest. 19-year-old Demetrius Jackson has been charged with second-degree murder and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Demetrius Jackson, please contact that Tacoma Police Department at (253) 798-4721.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Manuel and want to share their thoughts or memories of him. This section is moderated and each comment is approved before it shows up on the site. If a friend or loved one has a photo they would like to share of Manuel for this article, please send it to jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

 

First and Second Tacoma Homicides of 2017: Theresa Greenhalgh and Mary Buras

 

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Mary Buras

 

On the night of Wednesday January 4th, 31-year-old Theresa Greenhalgh and 22-year-old Mary Buras were in an upstairs bedroom of a house in the 3700 block of Yakima Ave. near Lincoln Park. A 36-year-old man was doing heroin in the room. The man’s 36-year-old sister and 15-year-old nephew were also in the house. At some point the man began hearing voices and yelling at Theresa. He would later say voices were telling him to kill her. He attacked her with his fists and a framing hammer. When his sister got in the way, he hit her as well. His sister and nephew left the house. The man then proceeded to attack both women, using a hatchet to behead them. His sister and nephew returned to the house the next day. Charging papers state that they helped the man clean up. On the night of the 6th they started a fire in the house in an attempt to cover up the crime. All three have been arrested.

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Theresa Greenhalgh

This is Tacoma’s first two homicides this year. Theresa Greenhalgh leaves behind three children, ages ranging from five-months-old to nine-years-old. It is easy to get caught up in the gruesome details of a crime like this and forget that this is not a movie or television show, but two people who were here in Tacoma on New Year’s Day and have been taken from this world against their will. These murders will echo in the lives of dozens of friends and relatives for years. It is difficult to overstate the damage done on both a personal and community level when crimes like this occur.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the victims and want to share thoughts or memories of the victims. The comments section moderated and each comment is approved before it is published.

Mary Buras has a CrowdFunding Page to help pay for her cremation.

– Jack Cameron

Eighteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016 William Edwards

In the early evening of December 19th, 21-year-old William Edwards was outside a convenience store in the 2700 block of South 12th Street. His girlfriend sat in a nearby car. He was there to buy an iPhone. He met up with two men outside the Central Tacoma convenience store.

The seller handed him the phone to look at it. William started backing away with the phone once he had it. One man grabbed him as William backed away. Court documents say that William became irate, grabbed the other man’s shirt and pulled out a handgun putting it to the man’s head. “Don’t ever run up on me.” He shouted, “I’ll f*cking kill you,”

William demanded the man give him his wallet. At this point the man reached towards his waist as if grabbing his wallet, and removed his own handgun from his waistband firing two shots at William. His girlfriend grabbed William’s gun and put it in a backpack. William was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The backpack was found and his girlfriend was detained. The shooter remained on the scene and was questioned by police. No charges are expected as the circumstances show the shooting to be a matter of self-defense.

William Edwards is the eighteenth Tacoma homicide of 2016. It has been an especially violent year. The last time we had this many homicides in a year was 2006. It is difficult to say what, if anything, has led to the increase in violence. Often it turns out that the violence has not really increased so much as shootings one year are more accurate than another.

At TacomaStories we focus on the victim and insist that a man is not his last or worst actions. Unfortunately, William’s common name makes an Internet search for more information about him difficult. This is why the comments section is reserved for those who knew William who might want to share memories of him. All comments are moderated and approved before being posted. Also if any friend or family member has a photo of William they would like me to share, please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

Seventeenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Bruce Randall Johnson II

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38-year-old Bruce Randall Johnson II did not have a good day on November 30th. He had been fired from his job as a barber and Sam & Terry’s barber shop up on Tacoma’s Hilltop where he had worked for the last eight months. He had gotten into an argument with his wife in which he had locked her out of the house they shared in the 400 block of East 52nd Street. When police knocked on the door he did not answer. When the landlord unlocked the door, he and his two children, an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, were on the third floor. When a police officer came up the stairs, Bruce opened fire, killing him.

It is unknown what exactly caused Bruce to behave the way he did on November 30th. In recent weeks friends and coworkers say he had become increasingly volatile. In mid-November he was spotted dressed as a plainclothes police officer at the Tacoma Mall, wearing a Sheriff’s cap and carrying a rifle case. He had been fired from the barbershop for altercations with customers and disagreements with staff.

Multiple people who knew him called said that Bruce was ‘troubled’. We will likely never know the mental state he was in or what caused him to take the actions that he did. We do know that there were people who enjoyed his company.

During the eleven hour standoff, Bruce would refuse to leave the house, at times using his children as human shields, at other times firing his guns at unknown targets. At one point his son was near the front door and a SWAT team member removed him from the house. Near 3:30am, a Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy outside the house fired one round through a window killing Bruce Johnson.

Bruce Johnson is the seventeenth Tacoma homicide this year and the second police involved shooting this year. TacomaStories treats police involved shootings like we treat any other homicides. This is because we operate under the concept that no one should be judged by their worst actions alone.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Bruce and want to share thoughts of memories of him.

If a family member or friend has a different photo they would like me to use for this site, you can send it to jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron