It was just after 9:30pm on Saturday, November 19th. In a parking garage in the 700 block of Commerce Street in downtown Tacoma, two transient acquaintances were talking. One was 33-year-old Jiskoko Sha. Friends called him Jish. The talking became an argument. The argument became physical. At some point the other man pulled a knife. A short time later a passerby found Jiskoko bleeding from a stab wound. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he later died, becoming Tacoma’s 11th homicide this year.
Police soon arrested the 36-year-old man who stabbed him, but prosecutors declined to press charges and released him pending further investigation.
The parking garage in which this happened is somewhat notorious for criminal activity though this is the first homicide to occur there.
I have been writing about homicides in Tacoma for eleven years and yet I still have difficulty fully explaining just what happens when someone in your life is murdered. Part of the reason for this site is to add a little more depth beyond the news headlines and to remind us that this isn’t just a homeless person getting killed in a bad area. This is a world ending. The world of Jiskoko Shaw is over. The impact of that echoes through the lives of his loved ones. Each of them feels a hole that cannot ever be fully patched. And Jish has been denied any possible future. His Tacoma Story ends here. But his memory remains. And who he was will not be forgotten by those who loved him.
As always the comment section is moderated and reserved for family and friends of Jiskoko Shaw who want to share memories or thoughts about him and his life.
– Jack Cameron
It was 8pm on Tuesday July 24th in the 4400 block of Portland Avenue. 30-year-old Francisco Beiza was walking down the street. Charging papers say that he had talked on the phone earlier with a 23-year-old man who claimed Francisco owed him money. The phone conversation had not gone well. Now the 23-year-old man showed up in an SUV with a group of others ranging in ages from 16-30. The man got out of the vehicle. The man and Francisco got into a scuffle. The scuffle ended with the man being stabbed. Three individuals then got out of the SUV. Two had guns. Francisco ran.
Inside the nearby Eastside Community Church they were having a bible study. The gunfire they heard was so loud that they initially thought it was in the building. Francisco Beiza died on the scene from gunshot wounds. Police found twenty-two 9mm shell casings and a knife near his body. Francisco was the eighth Tacoma homicide this year.
The 23-year-old man was taken to Allenmore Hospital by the individuals in the SUV. He later died during surgery. Six individuals were arrested in connection with the death of Francisco Beiza.
Francisco had a three-year-old daughter who lost her mother in 2015. I was unable to find much else about Francisco online, but here is what I know from covering all types of homicides in Tacoma for the last eleven years. There are people who knew and loved Francisco. There are people who will never be the same because of his murder. He will be missed. And not soon forgotten by those who care. Any killing is a tragedy and sometimes that tragedy hits home.
My thoughts go out to all of the friends and family involved in this. It’s not easy for anyone. If any friends or family have a photo of Francisco they’d like to send for this article, please send it to email@example.com.
As always the comments section is reserved for friends and family of Francisco who want to share memories or thoughts about him. All comments are moderated and approved before they are posted.
– Jack Cameron
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
It was around 4pm on February 1st when Tacoma police officers arrived at the home of Otto Youngers in the 3500 block of South Wilkeson Street in the Proctor neighborhood. They were there to check on the 78-year-old man after getting a call from his son’s friend. The friend said that Otto’s son had texted him earlier in the day saying he shot his father. His son had been behaving strangely lately. Inside they found Otto Youngers dead from a gunshot to the face. His son had a shell casing in his pocket and kept talking about his father being a ‘monster’, a ‘nazi’, and the person responsible for killing JFK. Otto Youngers becomes the fourth Tacoma homicide this year.
Otto’s 53-year-old son has been arrested for his murder. Though they mostly kept to themselves, Otto and his son were well known and liked in the neighborhood. Neighbors say Otto’s son was behaving strangely in recent weeks. It is clear that Otto’s death is the result of a combination of deadly weapons and significant mental illness.
This is the second parent being killed by their son in less than a year. As the fourth homicide this year, it’s also a significant increase in the rate of homicides from recent years. Typically we have about one homicide a month. At our current rate we are over double that.
As always, the comments section is monitored. Each comment is approved before it appears. The comments section is reserved for friends and family who want to share thoughts or memories of Otto.
It was just after 1:00am early Saturday morning on January 27th. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales and his 15-year-old best friend waited in the alley behind his best friend’s girlfriend’s house in the 5100 block of South Oakes Street. Hector had a baseball bat. The plan was that his best friend’s girlfriend had invited an acquaintance over. They knew this acquaintance had marijuana. Their plan was to rob him and take it.
The acquaintance came to the house expecting to have sex with the girl, but when he got there his gun fell out of his pocket. The girl told him to leave and texted her boyfriend to warn him about the gun. The acquaintance exited the house and was attacked. He was hit several times with the bat before pulling out his gun and firing one shot. The shot hit Hector Gonzales in the chest. The acquaintance ran away tossing the gun in some nearby bushes. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s third Tacoma homicide of 2018. Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Hector’s killer as it was deemed self-defense.
Whenever a teenager is murdered regardless of the circumstances it is a tragedy. In this case, it is difficult to see anything but tragedy. It is every parent’s nightmare. There is no one in this story you want to imagine your child being. And for four families, it is not imagination, but hard, cruel reality. Teenagers are not fully formed people. They have not figured out who they are yet. We do not know and will never know who Hector Gonzales would have turned out to be. Hector’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign in his name.
As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim. The comment section is moderated and I personally approve each comment before it shows. If you are a friend or family of the victim and would like to get in touch with me privately, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Jack Cameron
38-year-old Jeremy Martin returned home in 1400 block of South 37th Street around 1:30am on December 5th . Jeremy was shot multiple times shortly after arriving home. Someone in a large puffy coat was seen leaving the home shortly after the gunshots. That person got into a waiting vehicle and left. Jeremy was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he died hours later becoming the eleventh homicide this year for the city of Tacoma.
This is the extent of information available on the last hours of Jeremy Martin. I had waited in the hopes that more information would come to light, but sadly, none has. Pierce County Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for this murder. Anyone with information on this murder is asked to call 800-222-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous.
Jeremy would have turned 39 on Christmas Day. In a Facebook post made less than a month before his death, Jeremy wrote: “If I die tommorrow I did everything I said I was gonna do except a couple of things lol!” It’s clear that Jeremy did his best to live his life to the fullest. It is tragic that his life has been cut short.
Killings where there is nearly no information are in some ways the most heartbreaking. For most, this is merely another homicide in a city that has about a dozen homicides a year. But for family and friends, especially during this season, their world has changed in a way not thought possible. It simultaneously feels unreal and all too real. The lack of information about something so personally catastrophic can be maddening. Jeremy Martin now lives in their memories. His friends and family have my deepest sympathies.
As always, the comments section is moderated with each comment needing approval and is reserved for the friends and family of the victim to share thoughts or memories of Jeremy with the rest of us.
Here’s hoping this is the last of the Tacoma homicides for 2017.
– Jack Cameron
In the early morning hours of November 4th, 45-year-old James Timmons was on the hunt. He was looking for a Pokemon. James had been playing the smartphone game, Pokemon Go for a while now. It was a common occurrence to see him in the neighborhood taking a walk looking for a rare Pokemon. A little after two in the morning near South 66th and Tyler, James encountered someone with a gun. Neighbors report hearing gunshots around 2:25am. When the paramedics arrived James Timmons was already dead becoming the tenth Tacoma homicide this year. He was three blocks from his house.
James worked odd jobs and volunteered 20 hours a week managing the Mount Tahoma High School concessions stand where he was well known and well liked. He had an innocence about him and a genuine desire to help and engage with others.
Two months before his death James’ grandmother died. His mother died only a month before James’ murder. He had been staying a friend’s house for the last few months, but he was doing what he could to get by. I can imagine in such circumstances how escaping into a game like Pokemon Go would be a temporary relief. This murder is as senseless as any I have written up in the last eleven years.
At the time of this writing Tacoma police have not announced any suspect information, have not arrested anyone, and are asking for the public’s help. If anyone has any information on this murder, Pierce County Crime Stoppers are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and charges in this case. You can contact them at 1-800-222-8477.
A crowdfunding campaign has been created to pay for James’ memorial. If you’d like to help, here is the link: https://www.youcaring.com/rhondastinsonandmounttahomaboosterclub-1002491 I have talked to families who do these crowdfunding campaigns. Every donation is meaningful. If you are looking for a direct way to help someone, this is it.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for family and friends who knew James Timmons and want to share stories, memories, or other positive thoughts about him.
– Jack Cameron
77-year old Maria Levy loved the opera. When she worked at opera companies in San Diego and Connecticut. From 2002 to 2012 she was the Executive Administrator at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera & Ballet. In 2012 she moved to Tacoma to be closer to her son and two grandsons. She lived with them in her penthouse apartment at 1 St. Helens. Still feeling the call of the opera, she then became the Artistic Administrator of the Tacoma Opera. She was known as someone who always wanted to help people.
Sometime early Monday October 16th, something happened in Maria’s apartment. Maria’s 49-year-old son called police at around 5:30am. Her son claims that he heard his mother screaming in her bedroom and confronted an intruder who had attacked his mother. He could not describe the intruder and his story did not match up with the evidence. There were also indications that her son had tried to clean up some blood. He was wearing a t-shirt with a sweater pulled over it, but had blood stains on the t-shirt. And there was no evidence of anyone entering or leaving the penthouse apartment. Prosecutors allege that her son beat his mother in the head and neck with a broken liquor bottle then strangled her leaving Maria dead in her bedroom while her two grandsons slept in the next room. They further allege that when he realized he couldn’t clean it up, he made up a story of an intruder.
Maria’s son has been arrested and charged with second degree murder. This is the Eighth Tacoma homicide this year. It is also the first Tacoma homicide in which a son murdered his mother since the 2011 murder of Jacqueline Hensler. Every time someone dies in this city this community suffers a loss. When it’s someone like Maria Levy that loss is all the more obvious. My thoughts are with her young grandsons, the rest of her family and her coworkers and friends. Tacoma had the pleasure of Maria’s presence for far too short a time.
As always, the comments section is moderated. It is reserved for those who knew Maria and want to share thoughts or memories of her. Any negative comments are deleted.
– Jack Cameron
From time to time I fail to report a Tacoma homicide. It is never intentional. If a homicide happens in the city of Tacoma, I write about it. But sometimes I miss one due to my own inattention or a lack of media coverage. Audreyanna Newell was a 29 years old. Years ago her she sang Christmas carols with her mother on a airplane flight. More recently she lost her brother and grandmother. Like many people, she turned to drugs to numb the pain. The drugs caused mental problems. As 2017 began Audreyanna was a beautiful young woman with a diagnosed mental illness struggling with drugs and homelessness. She was incredibly vulnerable. Audreyanna was released from a Seattle jail on January 17th.
Two days later she met a 26-year-old man. They bought two six packs of beer at a convenience store in Seattle. They then took the Link Light Rail to Sea-Tac where they got in the man’s car and drove to 5800 block of Marine View Drive in Northeast Tacoma. At around 6:30pm someone reported hearing a gunshot. The next morning a man walking his dog found Audreyanna’s body in a gravel area on Marine View Drive. She’d been shot once in the back of the head.
Some beer and the bag from the convenience store was found near her. Police traced the beer to the convenience store where they obtained video footage of the two. They identified the 26-year-old man and charged him with second degree murder.
Audreyanna’s death was the third Tacoma homicide this year. She is also one of two homicides this year of homeless individuals. Being homeless exposes people to all sorts of potential dangers. Unfortunately one of those dangers is meeting up with violent individuals willing to take advantage of a homeless person’s vulnerability.
The 26-year-old man responsible for Audreyanna’s murder pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 18 years, 4 months in prison. Audreyanna’s mother said to her daughter’s killer, ““I have an idea that you will never be the same again and I hope that this will be the defining moment in your life and that you will rise from this occasion with a new direction and a new purpose for living,” Such kindness and forgiveness is awe inspiring.
I would like to extend a personal apology to the family and friends of Audreyanna Newell for my failure to write about her death sooner. As always the comment section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of the victim who want to share thoughts or memories of Audreyanna. All other comments will be deleted.
– Jack Cameron
His name was Oscar Blackwater. He was 74 years old. He was one of Tacoma’s homeless population. A friend went looking for him Monday morning. His body was found on a trail in the 3500 block of Pacific Avenue. An autopsy would reveal that he died from blunt force trauma to the head and chest. He was beaten to death on the streets of Tacoma.
Oscar’s death is the sixth homicide in Tacoma this year. His murder is the latest incident in a series of assaults and robberies on Tacoma’s homeless population. One victim stated that he was not only beaten and robbed of valuables but they also stole his pants.
The homeless are among our most vulnerable citizens. Tacoma’s homelessness problem is so significant that the city declared a State of Emergency. New efforts to create more sustainable and safe homeless camps has met with mixed results so far.
At the time of this writing police have no information on the suspect or suspects responsible for Oscar’s murder. Anyone with information on Oscar’s death is asked to contact the Tacoma Police Department.
As always, the comments section is monitored and reserved for those who knew Oscar and want to share memories of him.
UPDATE: CrimeStoppers is offering $1,000 reward to information that leads to the conviction of Oscar’s killer. Anyone with information is urged to call 800-222-TIPS (8477).
UPDATE 2: Oscar’s family is trying to bring his body back home to Arizona. They’ve started a GoFundMe to make this happen. https://www.gofundme.com/bring-home-oscar-blackwater
– Jack Cameron