Concerns about crime spur Hilltop gathering

Staff writerNovember 18, 2013 

A recent uptick in crime on Tacoma’s Hilltop has prompted a community group to hold a public meeting Monday so residents can speak to police about their concerns.

Police statistics show a 63 percent increase in crimes against people in the Hilltop area, going from 30 reports last year to 49 so far this year.

“It is slightly up and we’ll try different tactics to address that,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said, adding that the crime statistics still are lower than they have been in past years.

Two recent incidents have stoked fear among Hilltop residents.

The first was a Nov. 5 assault on a couple walking through a parking lot near South 19th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Justin Winter, 29, and Mishele Dupree, 39, told KIRO-TV that they were attacked by 15 to 20 young people at the direction of a teenage girl they’d argued with days earlier after denying her a cigarette.

The couple told police they did nothing to provoke the assault and were trying to defuse tensions when a man punched Winter and knocked him to the ground. He then was allegedly kicked repeatedly. Winter said he suffered a broken jaw in the attack. Doctors used four plates to screw his mouth shut and he needs two more surgeries, he said.

The second incident concerning Hilltop residents is a drive-by shooting that wounded two men Monday in the 1700 block of South Ainsworth Avenue.

No arrests have been made in either incident. Cool said the men shot refused to cooperate with police. Detectives are trying to identify suspects in the assault on the couple.

With so much community unease, the Hilltop Action Coalition moved its regular meeting up to address public concern about a spike in crime. The group’s community coordinator, Lisa Lawrence, said the meeting is not about any one incident but about a perceived spike in violent crime.

“We’re seeing an uptick in things going on and people want answers,” she said. “This will allow citizens to ask what is happening.

“We want to get everyone in the same room.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com

IF YOU GO

What: Hilltop Action Coalition meeting

When: 6-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18

Where: Tacoma police substation, 1524 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

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