Tacoma’s murder rate highest in 25 years

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma’s homicide rate is reaching numbers the city hasn’t seen since 1994.

“I just think that frustration levels are up and tempers are short,” said Jim Fuda, Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound director of law enforcement services.

Thursday night a 38-year-old man was shot and killed on Sixth Avenue and South M Street, marking Tacoma’s 30th murder this year.

There were 23 murders in Tacoma in 2019 and 18 in 2018.

Violent Crime Victim Services Executive Director Lew Cox believes the pandemic plays a big role.

“COVID is one driving force. Isolation, people may have lost their jobs, their home, they’re working from home, the kids aren’t going to school, they’re in the house,” he said.

COVID-19 is also impacting the justice system.

“People are committing crimes, they’re being booked but they’re not being put in jail, so it leaves more of these characters out on the streets to continue their nefarious lifestyles, so there’s no consequences and they know that,” said Cox.

Police said they can’t pinpoint a particular problem. Homicides are happening all over the city, and the causes are all over the map. This year, killings are connected to robberies, fights, gangs, drugs, mental health and domestic violence.

“COVID has directly played into some of the most lethal components in a domestic violence situation,” said Abi McLane, Crystal Judson Family Justice Center assistant director. “We will see the ripple effects of this for years to come.”

Crime victim advocates said the shutdown makes it tough for survivors to get help. They’re doing everything they can to turn the violent trend around.

“This is an indicator that if we don’t get back to a sense of equilibrium in our homes, our businesses, our communities, our lives, it’s going to continue on a dark road,” said Cox.

Nine of the 30 homicides in Tacoma this year are unsolved.

The City of Tacoma has a list of domestic violence resources and services for those in need of help.