Walking in the Park On Wednesday #2: Alderwood Park

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Which Park?  Alderwood Park

Who Or What Is It Named After? As far as I can tell, Alder, a kind of wood.

Where Is It? 208 Brown’s Point Blvd. Road,  Tacoma, WA 98422

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Child Area? Yes

Bathroom? No, but the Library next door has one.

Amenities? Picnic Tables, Benches, Covered Area, Trails.

Overview:

It’s easy to forget that Northeast Tacoma is even part of Tacoma. Situated just across Commencement Bay, many if not most people look over there not even realizing it is still part of Tacoma. For the second park in this ongoing series we went to Alderwood Park.

At first it appears to be just a small park with a play area for the kids located right next door to Mary Rose Kobetich Library. This makes it a perfect place to take kids if you’re in the neighborhood. The play area is substantial, but this park has much more to offer.

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The majority of the nearly 7 acre park is full of wooded trail that wind all around it. These are easy to follow trails that take minimal effort. In many ways it reminds me of a tiny version of the trails in Pt. Defiance Park.

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Alderwood Park was created in 1980 but there were significant improvements made around 2010. While some of those improvements remain, the Wildflower Garden is now truly wild.

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Lastly, just beyond the play area you’ll find a small grass field big enough to play Frisbee but not big enough for soccer. As parks go, Alderwood Park has a little bit of everything. With the library right next door, this is easily one of my favorite places in Northeast Tacoma.

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Photos and Content by Jack Cameron

Next Week: Alling Park

 

Walking In The Park On Wednesday #1: 21st Street Park

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Which Park?  21st Street Park

Who Or What Is It Named After? It is named after S. 21st Street. If Highway 509 did not start directly after you cross Pacific Avenue heading out of town,21st Street would lead to this park.

Where Is It?  2101 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

Amenities? Bathrooms

Overview: There are over sixty parks in the city of Tacoma. I have decided to visit all of them and write about them here on TacomaStories.com. For the most part, I will be visiting a park once a week and going through an alphabetical list.

First up is one of Tacoma’s newest parks. 21st Street Park was created as part of the recent efforts to revitalize Tacoma’s waterfront. It was created by Tacoma’s Metro Parks, designed by firm AHBL, and is maintained by the Foss Waterway Owner’s Association, the owners of the nearby building full of condos, The Henry. AHBL used century-old lumber in constructing an arbor covering in the center of the park as an effort to commemorate the old mills that used to dot Tacoma’s waterfront.

This is one of those parks where if you blink, you’ll miss it. Just past the glass museum and partially under the Highway 509 overpass, you’ll see a parking lot splitting two grassy areas. You’ve arrived at 21st Street Park. As you pull in, on your left side you’ll see a sizable grass area perfect for playing fetch with the dog, playing Frisbee or just sitting on the grass.

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On your right you’ll find public restrooms, another grassy area and an arbor. The long flat stones in the small field are good for sitting on (or climbing if you’re a small child). They are similar to stones used in the nearby Chinese Reconciliation Park. This sort of symmetry is a nice touch.

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The park is bordered by Dock Street on one side and a sidewalk on the other. There are a few benches for those who don’t want to sit on the stones. There is a small perhaps unintentional trail to the nearby water. You’ll also notice the near constant sound of trains going by as the tracks are just on the other side of Dock Street.

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The small amount of space 21st Street takes up is well used. It isn’t a good park for exploring, but if you’re looking for a piece of nature right by Downtown Tacoma, it’s a good spot.

Next Week: Alderwood Park

– Jack Cameron

Fourteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Tyrell Stokes

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29-year-old Tyrell Stokes was one of over 50 people who attended a party at an afterhours private club at 5224 South Tacoma Way on Saturday, October 22nd. A little before 2am on Sunday the 23rd, the rapper who was celebrating a recent record deal hit the stage. At 2:08am police heard between 20-30 gunshots. They responded to the scene and found many of the patrons fighting with each other and with first responders. Tyrell was still inside the club. He was shot. Outside, his brother and another man were also shot. They were all taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where Tyrell died of his wounds two hours later. His brother and the other victim are expected to survive.

This is Tacoma’s fourteenth homicide this year. It’s also the fourth homicide in less than a month and the third unsolved homicide in less than a month. There was also a shooting at the Safeway on South 72nd and Portland Avenue a few weeks ago that left a man in critical condition. While this recent increase in violence is concerning, it is not all that unusual. It’s easy to see patterns where there is only coincidence. However, given the number of recent unsolved shootings, it’s difficult to say what might be causing this uptick.

Despite over 50 witnesses, Tacoma Police have had difficulty getting information due to many of the witnesses being inconsistent or uncooperative. Crime Stoppers is offering up to $1000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for this triple shooting. You can call them and remain anonymous at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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

– Jack Cameron

Thirteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Dustin Kopp

32-year-old Dustin Kopp lived under the Highway 16 overpass by Cedar Street with other homeless individuals. On Tuesday October 18th, a man asked him to watch his stuff while he was gone. When the man returned his stuff was gone. Dustin told him who the thief was. Later the alleged thief confronted Dustin. He hit Dustin with a baseball bat and shot him with a BB gun. The BB managed to pierce his heart. Dustin was dead within minutes. The hole from the BB was so small that it wasn’t until the medical examiner found it that the authorities realized it was a homicide. Police quickly located and arrested the shooter who confessed to the killing.

Dustin Kopp is Tacoma’s thirteenth homicide this year. If it were not for the unusual manner of death, it’s likely that this particular homicide would not have even been reported in mainstream media. Indeed, a recent article about the increase in violence in Tacoma in the last few weeks did not even mention this one.

I could not find much online about Dustin, but I know from experience that there are those who knew him and cared about him. From time to time I will receive emails from old friends of homeless individuals who were killed. They will say that my article is the only thing they could find on the individual.

That is one of the reasons I started writing about homicides in the first place. I wanted to at least share what happened to the people taken from our city. I don’t have the time or resources to write their full life story, but I think the least I can do is write how it ended.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew the victim. Also, if anyone has a photo they would like to share of Dustin, please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

 

  • Jack Cameron

Eleventh and Twelfth Tacoma Homicides of 2016: Terry Northcutt and Voravangso Phanmana

Terry Northcutt at his daughter's wedding.

Terry Northcutt at his daughter’s wedding.

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Voravangso ‘Two’ Phanmana

Typically when a homicide happens in Tacoma I wait for the name of the victim to be released and for the authorities and other media outlets to report what happened. Sometimes I am unable to do that because the only people who know what happened are dead or murderers.

Around 1:00am on Friday, October 14th neighbors reported hearing multiple gunshots in the 3600 block of Portland Avenue East. They found 61-year-old Terry Northcutt and 45-year-old Voravangso ‘Two’ Phanmana dead of gunshot wounds in the yard of a house where Voravangso lived. Terry occasionally stayed there as well. Terry and Voravangso are the eleventh and twelfth Tacoma homicides this year. Neither man had a significant criminal history. More than a week after the shooting the possible motive as well as the person or people responsible is unknown.

Voravangso had a mother and an 11-year-old daughter. Terry had a daughter who got married a couple of years ago.

The loss felt by the family and friends of these men is only increased by the mystery of their demise. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone responsible. If you have any information about anything that happened in that area on the night of October 13th or the early morning hours of October 14th contact Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

If you would like to share thoughts or memories of Terry or Voravangso, you can leave a comment on this post. Every comment is moderated. Any inappropriate comments will be deleted.

– Jack Cameron

Tenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Terry Webb

On October 7th, Friday evening around 6:45pm the dinner rush was going strong at Tacoma’s legendary Frisko Freeze. 26-year-old Terry Webb approached two men sitting in a car in the parking lot. He produced a gun and attempted to rob the two men. He was unsuccessful. One of the two men in the care was also armed. The man in the car shot Terry. A friend of his drove him to the hospital where he later died from his gunshot wound.

This is the tenth Tacoma homicide this year. No charges are expected to be filed. I have been chronicling homicides in Tacoma for ten years now. In all that time, I have never seen charges filed in a situation where someone is protecting themselves, or their property. Robbery and burglary may not be death penalty level crimes, but if your intended victim is armed and kills you, if you’re in Tacoma, your killer will not likely be charged with a crime.

From a certain standpoint, this makes perfect sense. People should be allowed to protect and defend themselves. That is understandable. However, there is another aspect to this. The person who was Terry Webb cannot be summed up in his last actions. Like all of us, he had friends. He had family. He may have made bad decisions, but who among us has not? I am not trying to make Terry out to be someone better or worse than he was. I did not know him and can only share what I found from what little research I could find and how I feel about people in general.

I also know from talking to others who have been in similar situations that shooting another person is no simple thing. There is suffering that goes with taking a life. I understand that and do my best not to vilify what had to have been a difficult choice. But a killer’s life goes on. I choose not to focus on that in these posts because I prefer to focus on the victim who has no more stories to tell.

If you happen to be a friend or family member of Terry Webb and have a photo you would like me to use for this post, please email it to jackcameronis@gmail.com.

As always, the comments section is moderated by me and reserved for those who knew Terry and might want to share memories or thoughts about him.

– Jack Cameron

Ninth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Hyson Sabb

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41-year-old Hyson Sabb arrived at a house near the 1500 block of South L Street last Saturday night around 10pm. A female friend of his was arguing with a 50-year-old man. The argument was getting physical. Hyson decided to get involved. The argument between the two men became heated. The older man threatened to kill Hyson and then left saying he would be back. Charging papers say that Hyson had his friend retrieve a gun from Hyson’s trunk. It was unloaded. Hyson allegedly talked with another friend about getting bullets, but then the older man returned. The older man stopped his car in the street, got out of the car and shot at Hyson hitting him at least once. Hyson was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died.

Two weeks earlier, Hyson Sabb had eloped with his fiancé Adreine. They had a child together. Friends say he was looking at turning his life around. Instead Hyson Sabb is the ninth Tacoma homicide victim this year. And the fourth one on Tacoma’s Hilltop in the last twelve months.

At the time of this writing Tacoma Police have issued a warrant for 50-year-old Yancy Ray for Hyson’s murder. Crime Stoppers if offering a $1,000 for the arrest and charges filed against him. Read more about it here.

It’s easy for those who do not know the victim to think of it as just another shooting. If you’re connected to the victim, it’s anything but. Over the last decade that I’ve been writing about Tacoma homicides, I have heard from family and friends of homicide victims months and years after the event. The loss of a loved one echoes through the rest of their lives. In this case a child will grow up never knowing their father. My thoughts are with the friends and family of Hyson Sabb. I am sorry for your loss.

As always, the comments section is moderated. Only comments from friends and family of the victim will be approved.

– Jack Cameron