Tag Archives: Tacoma Homicide

Fifteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Morgan Pahkala Deines

morgandeines
In the early morning hours of Friday, November 11th, 23-year-old Morgan Deines and an unidentified male friend were near North Junett and North 7th Street. It was just after 2am, when all the bars close. According to statements from Morgan’s friend, they were prowling cars when they found a drunk 28-year-old man asleep in the driver’s seat of a car. They opened the driver’s side door and took his cellphone. They were in the process of taking speakers out of his trunk when he woke up. Morgan’s friend ran towards 6th Avenue. Morgan got into her black Lexus SUV in an attempt to drive away. Moments later Morgan’s friend heard four gunshots. All four gunshots from the 28-year-old’s gun hit Morgan’s vehicle.  One shot hit Morgan in the back of the head. Her vehicle continued for about a block before stopping when it bumped into a parked car. Morgan would die a short time later at the hospital becoming Tacoma’s fifteenth homicide this year.

It is worth noting that while Tacoma tends to have a fairly open policy on using lethal force to protect yourself or your property, it does require that you be in potential danger. Firing a gun at a fleeing car does not qualify. Shooting someone in the back of the head is murder.

Police arrested the 28-year-old man on the 22nd. During that time there was precious little released to the public about the case. Typically when only a small amount of information is available it is either because the police genuinely have nothing or they have something they are actively working on. In this case it appears it was the latter. I do not consider this site a ‘news’ site and do not write about homicides until I feel I have sufficient information to do so. This is why this entry is two weeks after the incident.

As long time readers will know, I believe that an individual should be judged by more than their last actions. There are those who may think that someone who is thought to be a thief deserves whatever consequences occur. To those I ask that they recall their own worst actions and see that we all have made bad decisions at one time or another. More to the point, regardless of those actions and decisions everyone has friends and loved ones who now have a hole in their life where their friend used to be.

Morgan Pahkala Deines was born in Eugene, Oregon. She had a love of water and weather. She enrolled at Oregon State University to study Atmospheric Science. Nothing would excite her more than a thunder storm. Later she came to Tacoma where her mother lives. She had many tattoos and piercings and loved to express herself. She had an outgoing personality that tended to be infectious. When she was younger, she was a Girl Scout and volunteered at a food bank called Food For Lane County.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Morgan and want to share memories of her. All comments are moderated and approved by me before they appear. Inappropriate comments will be deleted.

– Jack Cameron

Fourteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Tyrell Stokes

tyrell-stokes

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.

Voravangso 'Two' Phanmana

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

Eighth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Emmitt Taylor Jr.

Screenshot_2016-07-15-10-03-28-1-1.png

On the evening of July 10th 59-year-old Emmitt Taylor Jr. was drinking at a homeless camp with a woman he knew near the 1100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way. They were joined by a 24-year-old man. At some point the man and Emmitt got into an argument. The argument got loud but eventually Emmitt chose to walk away. The other man followed. Emmitt was found a short distance away bleeding from the head. He was dead when paramedics arrived.

The 24-year-old man has been arrested and charged with first degree manslaughter.

This is Tacoma’s eighth homicide this year. And the second one that went virtually unreported by the press until someone was charged with his killing. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out much about Emmitt. This I have found is quite common with the homeless population. They rarely leave a digital footprint, but they are every bit as worthy of remembrance.

Associated Ministries is performing a moment of blessing at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South 11th Street today, July 20th from 3:30pm -3:45pm

Emmitt’s only daughter contacted  me and provided the photo above. She said he did all he could as a father and grandfather. He will be missed.

As always the comments section is reserved for friends and family who knew him to share any thought or memories they might like to share.

– Jack Cameron

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Samuel Cruces Vasquez

13133399_1719331774972714_827628137805182318_n-1_resized_1

I have operated TacomaStories.com as a one-man website for ten years in one form or another. In that time I have made media, police, and government contacts, but my resources remain limited. This means that sometimes a homicide happens in Tacoma and I don’t find out about it until weeks or months later because it was never in the news. Such is the case with the death of 24-year-old Samuel Cruces Vasquez. His homicide went unreported in the media until a man was charged with his murder two weeks ago.

On April 28th, Samuel ended his shift at a restaurant in Southcenter Mall at around 10:30pm. He made a phone call to a friend saying he was going out for drinks. A little less than an hour later Samuel was found in 7800 block of South Trafton in Tacoma on the ground outside of his car. A butterfly knife was nearby. He had been stabbed multiple times. Paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital where he later died.

A friend of his was later arrested for the stabbing. The friend claimed it was part of a gang initiation. Samuel Cruces Vasquez was the seventh Tacoma homicide this year.

His girlfriend says that he was a very caring person who always put others before himself. He was also the father of two children.

As always the comments section is reserved for friends and family who knew him to share any thought or memories they might like to share.

– Jack Cameron

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2016: Ryan Wilkinson

0Last Friday night three people near the corner of South 48th and Yakima Street were shot. Near midnight they all arrived at the emergency room under their own transportation. One was treated and released. One had more substantial but non-life-threatening injuries and the third, 30-year-old Ryan Wilkinson died the following morning from his injuries.

Ryan was the father of a baby girl born a few months ago and seen in this photo. His friends say he was very loving and friendly and will be dearly missed.

The survivors of the shooting have been entirely uncooperative with authorities and so at this time not much more is known about the events or the circumstances surrounding those events. Authorities say that this was not a random act of violence and that the victims were specifically targeted.

This is the fifth homicide in the city of Tacoma this year making this year’s toll significantly higher than previous years. By this time in 2014 there had only been one homicide.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Ryan and might want to share stories or memories about him. Any negative comments will not be tolerated or accepted. Also if any friends or family have a photo they would like to share, you can email it to me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron