Around 10:30pm on July 18th Tacoma Police received a tip about three young men in an SUV confronting people about their gang affiliation. About twenty minutes later 24-year-old Robert Doss II and a 20-year-old woman had parked near the intersection of South 14th and L Street in a 2004 Ford Explorer. They were eating when the SUV pulled up. The man in the passenger seat of the SUV asked them where they were from. Robert told them he was from Hilltop. The driver pulled the SUV slightly forward. The man in the backseat, a hooded sweatshirt over his face opened fire and drove away.
Robert was hit in the chest. His female companion was hit in the hand. She managed to drive to the nearby St. Joseph’s Medical Center where Robert was pronounced dead and she was given medical treatment.
The three men were found six days later in a house in Graham and have been arrested for their part in Robert’s murder. A surveillance camera at the East Side convenience store helped identify the driver. The driver admitted that they were looking for rival gang members to attack in retaliation for a shooting in May. The driver claimed that Robert was responsible, but there’s no evidence that Doss was in a gang much less responsible for any violence whatsoever.
This is the seventh Tacoma homicide this year. Typically in the city of Tacoma we have about one homicide a month. But we’ve had three in the last week. It’s worth noting though that though this shooting occurred on Hilltop this is only the second homicide in the past year to take place in that neighborhood. This is a marked difference from the violent days of the 1990s.
When violent crime increases it’s easy for the human experience to be lost in the statistics and the law. Of course this is impossible if a loved one is the victim of a homicide. Robert was a security guard at a downtown fast food restaurant. He was a good guy with a great smile. And he will be missed by those who knew and loved him in a way that most media will ignore and I will fail to do justice to.
As always, the comment section is reserved for those who knew Robert who might want to share thoughts or memories of him. Comments are moderated and approved before they are posted.
– Jack Cameron
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
Last Saturday afternoon at around 1pm 19-year-old Phillip Ryan Jr. was on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. He was less than a block from where Steven Speakman had been shot four days earlier near S. 10th and MLK when a car pulled up and shot Phillip. Emergency responders arrived and transported Philip to a nearby hospital where he died shortly after arriving.
Phillip is Tacoma’s 12th homicide this year. He is the third young man shot and killed in Tacoma in less than a week. This is the third shooting within four blocks of each other. And this is the fifth shooting in Tacoma in the last twelve days with a sixth one happening last night on S. 45th and Union where another young man was shot in the leg.
If this seems like an excessive amount of violence for Tacoma, it is. I’ve been talking about Tacoma homicides since 2006 and the last time I remember this much violence in so short a time it was the mid-1990s.
I call Tacoma the biggest small town in the world because everyone seems to know everyone. So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that my teenage son knew Philip. They both attended Stadium together. A few years ago I even met the young man.
My son said he was funny. And his friends who also knew him are in shock at his sudden murder. Last night there was a Peace Walk near the spot where Elijah Crawford was killed and his friend was shot. Tonight (Sunday) at 5:30pm there’s going to be a gathering at Peoples Park near the shootings of both Steven Speakman and Phillip Ryan.
As always, the comments section is moderated by me and reserved for those who knew Phillip Ryan and want to share thoughts or memories.
On Tuesday morning a man was walking back home after walking his wife to work in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. It was just after six in the morning. On South 10th and Martin Luther King Jr. Way he found 26-year-old Steven Speakman on the sidewalk. He’d been shot three times and had died from his wounds. The man tried to wave down a car for help, but it was a few minutes before anyone stopped.
Steven Speakman is the 11th Tacoma homicide of 2015 and the second to occur this week, with the shooting of Elijah Crawford happening just seven hours earlier on Tacoma’s East Side.
Steven was 26 years old but was intellectually disabled and functioned at the level of a ten year old. He lived only two blocks from where he was found and was well known and well liked in the neighborhood. People called him ‘Little Stevie’. A small memorial stands where Steven was found.
At this time police do not have a suspect or a motive. He was not robbed of anything but his life. Police are asking for anyone who might have information or been in the area around that time to contact them.
Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood is notorious for its high crime rate in the early 1990s, but this is actually the first homicide in Hilltop in over a year. What once was a neighborhood that people were rightly afraid to go into has become a much safer, more vibrant part of Tacoma.
As always, the comments section is moderated by me and reserved for those who want to share thoughts and memories of Little Stevie.
– Jack Cameron
Prince Gavin was a combat medic in the US Army. A sergeant. He was stationed at Joint Base Lewis/McChord. He’d done two tours in Iraq. He carried a .45 pistol for protection and had a permit to do so. As far as anyone can tell, he’d never pulled it on anyone. On Friday his ex-girlfriend was helping him move from his place on Mildred. He’d been recently been transferred to a base in Colorado. At some point there was an argument between the two or something happened that caused the police to respond. The officers arrived to the place on Mildred but found no one there. They had information that they may have gone to a house on the 0800 block of South M Street.
As Gavin and arrived in a truck on South M Street, a police officer pulled up. Reports say that Gavin ran from the truck towards the house. What happened next is unclear. There was some sort of confrontation between Gavin and the officer. The officer says he was in fear for his life and fired his service weapon twice killing Prince Gavin. Sgt. Gavin was 29 years old. Gavin’s pistol was found near his body. Friends say that Gavin was likely trying to show the officer that he was armed and the officer misunderstood. It’s unclear what exactly happened and the shooting is currently under investigation.
This is the second shooting this officer has been involved in. It would be easy to make the leap that the shooting was unnecessary and that this is just the latest in a recent string of questionable local police involved shootings over the past few years. However, as tempting as it might be to paint such a picture, doing so leaves out the fact that we don’t actually know what happened. All we know is that two armed men had a confrontation and that one killed the other.
I’ve known many police officers. Some of them have been involved in shootings. Not one of them wanted to kill anyone. I think the same is true of Sgt. Prince Gavin. Given what information we have, it’s difficult for me to see Gavin turning his weapon on a cop. At the same time, I have a hard time thinking that the responding officer’s actions were malicious. This is a tragedy. And I hope that the resulting investigation will uncover more facts.
My heart goes out to Gavin’s family and friends. And to the family of the officer involved in the shooting.
Sgt. Prince Gavin was the seventh homicide in the city of Tacoma this year. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Gavin to share their memories of the man and let the rest of us know who he was.
– Jack Cameron