Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

First Tacoma Homicide of 2013: Tyliah Young

Tyliah YoungIt’s been brutally cold lately in Tacoma. The other night I walked from my house to my friend’s without a coat. His place is just four houses away. I was so cold when I got there that I stayed for an hour just to warm up. A little over two miles away on Saturday morning, 23-year-old Tyliah Young was found in an alleyway near S. 12th and Ainsworth. Her body was frozen. There was frozen blood present causing police to believe it was not the elements that killed her. Today the medical examiner released her cause of death as multiple gunshots to the head.

Tyliah was from New York and had talked of going back there where she had family. Friends and family say she was a happy person. She had two young daughters.

Some people will say that a homicide on Tacoma’s Hilltop is nothing new. They will say that it’s an area famous for violent crime. And they’re right about that much. However, Hilltop’s reputation is far worse than the reality. In the years since the gang and crime filled days of the early 1990s, Hilltop has emerged as a better neighborhood full of new businesses and an active community. As a life-long citizen of Tacoma, there was a time when I wouldn’t even drive in Hilltop at night. Now, I feel safe walking those same streets.

Tacoma’s first homicide of 2013 is tragic and here’s hoping it’s one of the few this year. As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family if they want to share thoughts or stories about Tyliah for others to read. I’m sorry for your loss.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for Tyliah’s murder. http://www.tpcrimestoppers.com/case.php?id=555

–          Jack Cameron

Fourteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Sophia Strickland

A woman called the police from her house in the 3500 block of Fawcett Avenue a little after 9:30pm on Saturday night. She said that her 22-year-old daughter, Sophia had fired multiple gunshots inside the house and may have killed herself. Police responded and tried to talk with Sophia but she would not respond. She had a handgun in her hand and walked down the stairs approaching the officers. One of the officers opened fire, killing her. Sophia Strickland became the 14th Tacoma homicide of 2012.

This is the third Tacoma Police involved shooting this year. As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim to share memories of Sophia. Lately, some comments on other posts have been the sort that blame or attack the shooter. This is not the place for that. My purpose in writing about these homicides is to make sure that the memory of those who were taken from Tacoma are remembered and not just mentioned on the news for a day or two and forgotten.

Though we’ll never know what Sophia’s intent was when walking down those stairs, I believe that people are more than whatever their last moments were. My heart goes out to her friends and family.

–          Jack Cameron

Thirteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Tristan Dillard

Early Tuesday morning six people in a Honda on Tacoma’s East Side. They’d spent most of the evening drinking and partying. At some point, an argument erupted between two people in the car. Both had guns. Around 1am, shots were fired in the car. The car crashed into a fence in the 6200 block of McKinley Avenue. One woman was injured and 20-year-old Tristan Dillard was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

At this time the shooter has not been arrested as it is being determined whether or not the shooting was self-defense. Police say that the shooter is being entirely cooperative.

This is the thirteenth Tacoma homicide this year. From the sounds of things, this was a tragic incident that should not have happened. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the victim and want to share their memories of him.

– Jack Cameron

Twelfth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Michael Crawford

Monday night two Lakewood officers were patrolling Gravelly Lake Drive near I-5 in a patrol car when they spotted a stolen vehicle. The vehicle got onto I-5 heading North. The police officers chased the vehicle until it got off on the East Portland Avenue exit. Shortly after that, the police were able to do a maneuver to stop the stolen vehicle. At this time, according to police reports, the man in the car opened fire on them. The officers returned fire hitting 35-year-old Michael Crawford. Last night Michael died from his injuries. No police officers were hurt.

This marks the twelfth Tacoma homicide of 2012 and the second police involved homicide. We’ll likely never know all of the details that led to Michael choosing to open fire on police officers. Especially given recent local history, he had to know that doing so was a no-win situation. My heart goes out to both Michael’s family and the officers involved in the shooting. One of the reasons I include police involved shootings in the homicides I write about is that too often the media defines someone by their final act. Michael Crawford was certainly more than a car thief. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Michael and want to share their memories with us.

–          Jack Cameron

Eleventh Tacoma Homicide of 2012 Patrick Nicholas

Last Tuesday 40-year-old Patrick Nicholas was at a storage facility on Sprague with his wife and another couple. The two men got into an argument. According to charging documents Patrick reached in his pocket. The other man shot him once but thought he had missed and shot him a second time. When police arrived, Patrick was found with a gun in his pocket.

The man who shot Patrick has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. This is the eleventh homicide of 2012 in the city of Tacoma. Typically the city averages about one homicide a month. More often than not, they seem to be situations in which an argument erupts into something much more violent.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Patrick. Here’s hoping his death is the last for the year.

– Jack Cameron

Tenth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: David Watson

Early Sunday morning, 45-year-old David Watson got in his pick-up truck and went looking for his dog. He apparently found his dog and stopped at a convenience store on S. 56th and S. Lawrence Street. While he sat in his pick-up truck somebody shot him. David then drove a couple of blocks before veering off the road. Neighbors reported the revving truck engine. David was found dead behind the wheel. His dog was with him. Surveillance cameras show two men running away from the pick up truck at the convenience store. Police are currently looking for these two men.

By all accounts this wasn’t a robbery or a drug deal gone bad. No one seems to know what exactly led to this tenth homicide in Tacoma this year. What is known is that David Watson will be missed and that his friends and family as well as this site hope that his killer is brought to justice soon.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew David to share with us who he was and remember him. I approve every comment on this site so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t pop up right away. Here’s hoping this is the last Tacoma homicide this year.

UPDATE: A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the death of David Watson. Reports say that the boy and another 16-year-old boy confronted David demanding his possessions. He reportedly laughed at them and attempted to grab the gun and was shot during the confrontation.

– Jack Cameron

Ninth Tacoma Homicide of 2012, Robert Meline

In the early morning hours of Thursday, October 25th, Robert Meline’s 29-year-old son drank a cup of coffee. Two years earlier he’d been released from Western State Mental hospital for treatment of paranoid schizophrenia. He was deemed ‘no longer an imminent threat to himself or those around him.’ Earlier in the week he’d bought a hatchet and told Robert Meline that he was going to kill him.

At just after two in the morning Robert Meline was attacked and killed by his son wielding a hatchet. He was 56 years old. Robert’s screams woke his daughter who found her brother on the stairs carrying a bloody hatchet. She then took her brother down the Pierce County Jail to turn himself in.

Robert was a sixth grade teacher in Bethel School District. By all accounts he was well liked and an all around positive person.  He had been with the school district for over twenty years.

It would be easy to cast blame on Western State and the status of our mental health facilities but unfortunately it’s not a simple problem that can be fixed easily and not every dangerous individual appears to be such before something violent happens.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew and remember Robert Meline and want to share with us what he was like.

–          Jack Cameron