Tukwila Beefing Up Its Police Force
TUKWILA â€“ Another detective is being added to the Tukwila Police Department’s investigative unit to handle the recent outbreak of shootings, including the most recent one at Foster Golf Links last weekend.
The department plans to reassign a patrol supervisor with broad investigative experience to the 12-member detective unit. To fill that vacancy, Public Information Officer Mike Murphy will be reassigned from administrative duties to a squad car, Murphy said Wednesday.
Three people have been killed and two others wounded in the past three months in a city that generally sees one a homicide a year. The latest happened Sunday when two men were gunned down outside restaurant overlooking a city-owned golf course.
“We’re taking everything we can and throwing it at the problem,” Murphy said.
The sudden spike of violence couldn’t have happened at a worse time. This year, Tukwila has been celebrating its centennial anniversary with events promoting the city as a vibrant community with parks, urban trails, and regional venues beyond the Westfield Mall at Southcenter.
It has been frustrating for city leaders who invested about $500,000 in a yearlong calendar of promotions and public events, including community festivals, a soccer tournament, a culinary fair and a jazz concert by musician and former Tukwila resident Walt Wagner.
“We’re promoting all the positives of Tukwila and all the good things we have to offer and sometimes it seems like you’re treading up a waterfall,” said Mayor Jim Haggerton, who took office this year.
“But we’re not going to let them affect the positive things going on. We’re going full-steam ahead with our centennial plans,” he said.
Some neighborhood block watch groups have been concerned and Haggerton has assured them that recent incidents aren’t happening citywide.
Tukwila, referred to as the “crossroads” between Seattle, Sea-Tac Airport and South King County, boasts a population of about 18,000 that quadruples during the day. It is known for its regional shopping mall at Southcenter, which sits at the convergence of Interstates 5 and 405 just south of Seattle.
Police don’t see a pattern in the shootings, other than they’ve happened in public areas. The department might consider extra patrols or an emphasis detail if officers can isolate a factor in the violence. It’s not surprising that given Tukwila’s geography, rival groups from different areas might wind up confronting each other in the city, Murphy said.
“We’ve just been having chance meeting between rivals who have some sort of beef and it escalates to violence,” Murphy said. “There is no increase in the overall crime, just the severity of the crime that’s occurring.”
The recent cases under investigation include
- Devon Tramaine Guidry, 24, was killed Sunday outside Gordon’s on the Green, a restaurant overlooking Foster Golf Links. Guidry was one of two men shot during an argument after a jazz-style party attended by celebrities that included Gary Payton and Bruce Williams, who co-wrote a book on hip-hop artist and producer Dr. Dre.
- Rogers Jovan Ward, 24, was shot and killed March 15 during an argument in the 5700 block of South 152nd Street. Police have identified the suspect as Carlos W. Ellison III.
- A 21-year-old man was wounded March 12 in gunfire between several people outside the Southcenter mall. Police arrested two suspects who were later released.
- Allen Winston-Stewart, 24, was fatally shot in a car on Feb. 20 at South 116th Street near Tukwila International Boulevard.The recent cases represent the most violent cycle of city crime since Tukwila first annexed areas around the Pacific Highway in the 1990s and inherited the drug dealing and prostitution problems that came with the area, Murphy said.