Tag Archives: Officer Involved Shooting

Seventeenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Bruce Randall Johnson II


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

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Sgt. Prince Gavin

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

Officer Involved Shooting In Tacoma

Last night brought the second homicide of 2011 in Tacoma. Two patrolmen found a suspicious person near a phone booth by the 76 Station near East Portland Ave. and Puyallup Ave. As they approached him, he pulled out a handgun and opened fire. The two patrolmen returned fire, killing him.

This is just the latest local police involved shooting and there are many people jumping to conclusions before all of the facts are in. At this point, there are very few facts. I’ll be writing about this in much more detail once more information has been released.

During KIRO 7’s newscast last night they talked to a guy who called himself ‘John’ who didn’t want his face shown and refused to talk to police. He said that the cops just walked up and shot the guy. There’s absolutely no reason to believe his story at this point. Let’s buy into his story for a moment.

Let’s pretend it’s true. You watch two cops shoot an unarmed man. Talking to the news is probably a good idea, but if you’re actually afraid of the police at this point, the thing to do is show your face to the world. If everyone knows who you are, then the odds of retaliation go down significantly. Of course this is all assuming you’re telling the truth and you really think the cops are just power mad killers. Then again, if you were just a guy who didn’t like cops and wanted to paint them in a bad light but didn’t really have anything on them, I’m willing to bet you might try to smear them with some made up story as to what ‘really’ happened.

Here’s a little secret. Cops are people. And they want to shoot people about as much as you or I want to shoot people. However, there are situations when the use of lethal force isn’t only okay, it’s outright necessary. A night where you’re fire your weapon at someone isn’t something any cop forgets. It’s a night that lives with them for the rest of their lives.

I’m not saying that every officer involved shooting is a good shoot. It’s just that there’s a fair amount of people out there that seem to assume the opposite. Too often people who weren’t in the situation and who don’t know the full facts of the case will spout off about how a cop didn’t need to use lethal force. Sometimes this is true. But the vast majority of the time the police officer involved used lethal force because their life or other lives were in direct danger.

This particular issue is a bit of a hot button locally. In 2009 six cops were killed in the line of duty in Western Washington. Four of them in an ambush in a coffee shop in Lakewood. In 2010, the amount of police involved shootings went up. I don’t think this is a coincidence. Any rational person could see and understand why a cop might be more willing to pull his piece after a year like that.

Of course, the first thing on anyone’s mind around here if they hear about a police shooting is John T. Williams, a Native American woodcarver in Seattle who was shot last summer by a police officer seven seconds after the cop got out of his car. An inquest into the shooting determined that it may have been a criminal action the part of the police officer.

Sometimes the police feel they have to use lethal force. Are they always correct? Of course not. No one is. However, jumping to conclusions and just assuming that police officers are just shooting people for the fun of it is just stupid. The facts of the case will reveal themselves. They always do. Even in the case of John T. Williams, what really happened has come out. Until then, let’s give the police the benefit of the doubt. I for one say they’ve earned it for putting their lives on the line on a daily basis to protect the people of Tacoma.

Update: Police have identified the man who was shot as 42-year-old Robert O’Connell. More soon.