Tacoma homicide rate is a cause for concern for city leaders

TACOMA - There have been 18 homicides so far this year in Tacoma. That is the same number the city had all of last year.

Many cities see an upswing in violence in the summertime, but Tacoma's increase is cause for concern.

To compare other cities, Everett has had six homicides so far this year and Seattle has had 20 homicides. But Seattle has more than three times the population of Tacoma.

Not all of the 18 homicides are gang-related, but many residents in parts of Tacoma say gang violence and youth violence is a major driving force.

Q13 News met William Martin Satiacum on Wednesday during one of the worst moments of his life.

“Yes, I lost my nephew to gang violence. He was a wonderful young man,” Satiacum said.

Something else he said really sticks with you.

“I am scared every day; I live right here on the east side of Tacoma and I am vulnerable,” Satiacum said.

His nephew, 19-year-old Rigo Dillon, died at the hospital after someone opened fire on a group of people Tuesday night along East 38th Street in East Tacoma. 26-year-old Antoine Jamir Holmes died at the scene. Three others were also injured but are expected to survive.

Q13 News took Satiacum’s concerns to Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards on Thursday.

“What I can say to the citizens and even to the gentleman: we recognize there is a problem. What we were doing wasn't working,” Woodards said.

Woodards says the city of Tacoma spent a lot of time in schools in the past trying to convince young people to stay away from gangs.

Although an important effort, Woodards says a recent analysis of the issue made it clear that it was not enough.

“We needed to get directly into the neighborhoods keeping the work at schools but getting into neighborhoods and so that’s what we are doing with the RAIN program and Comprehensive Life Resources."

The city is funding the staff at Comprehensive Life Resources to map out problem areas.

They are going into the identified neighborhoods looking to engage young people in gangs or those in trouble.

The mayor is urging families in need to reach out to Comprehensive Life Resources.

She says it will take the whole community to turn things around.

"We average about 12 homicides a year, so the fact that it's 18 and it's only August is disheartening to me," Woodards said.

Councilmember Catherine Ushka also sent Q13 News this statement.

"I am deeply troubled by the recent uptick in violent crime, gun, and gang related activity in our neighborhoods and the tragic loss of life. I assure you that there is no tolerable level of violence in our neighborhoods and it is being taken very seriously. Our Chief of Police and City Manager are focused on addressing this issue and I understand that the gang unit, increased patrols, the detective unit and others, as well as set mission activities are underway. I am working with partners to establish a forum to discuss community safety concerns as well as other opportunities for our community to come together and heal."