Possible removal of South Sound homeless encampment after crimes found linked to it

FIFE, Wash. — A South Sound homeless encampment could be removed after multiple crimes were discovered to be associated with the location, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

The encampment is in the city of Fife, but also borders the city of Tacoma and unincorporated Pierce County. Located on property owned by WSDOT, law enforcement recovered 40 stolen vehicles from the encampment.

Multiple arrests have also been made at the encampment, including six people with felony warrants from Washington State Department of Corrections. Another person was also arrested for “felony possession of a firearm” after deputies found a shotgun, according to deputies. Drug trafficking has also been frequent, according to deputies.

“We’ve also had several reports of gunshots fired in the area,” Sgt. Jason Youngman with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said in a video posted by the agency. “(Fife Police) report that it’s almost a nightly event to hear gunshots coming out of here.”

“We have DOT property inside our city that’s moving towards construction for the 167 expansion from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma,” Aaron Gardner, an assistant chief with the Fife Police Department, said in the video. “We have numerous individuals that have been living on state land.”

A 72-hour notice/order to leave the property was posted by WSDOT on Nov. 12. Anyone still on the property could be arrested, according to a deputy with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

Several residents in Fife tell KIRO 7 they hope those who need help get assistance, but also agree that criminal activity should not be tolerated.

“It’s good they’re cleaning things up, but on the other hand, they need to look on the other side and make sure what they’re cleaning up isn’t just a bunch of people who are just trying to make it,” Mike Smith said while standing blocks away from the encampment. “Try to help them out more. Get rid of the bad and try to help out those who really need it… There’s a lot of homeless (people) out there who aren’t doing bad, who are literally sleeping in tents trying to get back up to where they were.”

“There’s a big difference between struggling and trying to take over,” Isaac Fogalele said while standing by Smith. “That’s just crazy, bizarre, and it’s kind of good that they found it, you know? Make the environment more safe out here (in Fife).