Tacoma woman faces murder charges in robbery that turned to shootout

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A Tacoma woman is facing murder charges after Tacoma police say a planned robbery quickly escalated into a shootout. On July 30, Tacoma police officers responded to the 5300 block of South Orchard Street after a 911 caller reported two men shooting at each other in a parking lot.

Additional 911 callers later reported that one of the men had been shot and the other had fled the scene. Upon arriving at the scene, police found 39-year-old Ronnal Hines. He died following multiple gunshot wounds.

His sister, Chantell Whatley, says Hines leaves behind two young children.

“They miss him and we all miss him. But seeing and missing his smile is probably the hardest thing,” says Whatley.

Detectives used surveillance footage from nearby businesses to make an arrest in this case.

Malik Patterson was arrested in August and faces murder charges.

Police now believe another person helped orchestrate the robbery-turned-homicide. Documents from the Pierce County prosecuting attorney outline the alleged role of Taushelle Ellis-Dorsey, saying that a “subsequent investigation revealed that Ellis-Dorsey helped set up a robbery of the victim.”

The documents say Ellis-Dorsey was dating Patterson at the time, and that:

  • A friend of Patterson asked her if she would ride around in the victim’s Mustang.
  • Ellis-Dorsey agreed to assist in the robbery.
  • Ellis-Dorsey was communicating via text messages with Patterson and updating him with their location.

“My brain gets stuck on why they chose my brother as a target,” says Whatley.

Police say that when Patterson arrived at the parking lot where Ellis-Dorsey and Hines were, he confronted Hines. Police allege he used a gun and demanded everything Hines had, saying that Hines pulled out a gun as well and the shooting began, leading to Hines death.

“They knew what they were doing. It was orchestrated, premeditated, whatever you want to call it, they made that choice,” says Whatley about the suspects.

She says that the family is grateful for the arrest of Ellis-Dorsey and Patterson as they await justice.

“It brought me so much joy to know that those detectives worked and worked and worked ... and they didn’t stop. And they were looking for justice, just as much as we were looking for justice,” says Whatley.