On the evening of December 3, 2020 two men approached the homeless encampment on 6th and M Street looking to cause trouble. One of them lived a block away and blamed a resident of the encampment for his car recently being broken into and was looking for some payback carrying a piece of wood. The other had a pistol. They admit that their intent was to get the entire encampment of over a dozen tents full of unhoused individuals to move through violent force. The man with the piece of wood started swinging at tents with no regard to who was inside them. When encampment resident 38-year-old Patrick Nathan Shenaurlt heard the commotion he grabbed the only weapon he had, a BB gun and confronted the two men. The man with the gun saw the BB gun and shot Patrick twice in the back, killing him. Patrick is the 30th Tacoma homicide of 2020.
Tacoma has always had a significant homeless population and these days it is significantly bad due to an influx of new residents willing to pay rents that many long-time residents cannot afford. This has led to multiple encampments popping up throughout the city. They tend to last for a few months and then are cleared out by police and reappear somewhere else in the city. These temporary communities offer both safety and danger. And while there is increased crime where these encampments appear, it’s important to note that the most likely victims of these crimes are other homeless individuals.
Patrick had been homeless since 2013. He was someone who gravitated towards the role of protector in whatever company he was in. Outspoken and compassionate, it would not surprise anyone who knew him to see him standing up to a couple of adult bullies who, at the time Patrick confronted them had already injured two women inside a tent.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Patrick and want to share thoughts or memories of him.
- Jack Cameron