The walls of Josephine Bailey’s home in Tacoma’s Hilltop are lined with the smiling faces of four generations of family.
One face that is missing is grandson Bruce R. Johnson II.
“He just seemed to be a troubled person,” Bailey said Thursday morning from her living room.
Hours earlier, she said, the family learned Johnson was the man involved in a shootout with Tacoma police that left one officer dead.
Never miss a local story.
Police have not identified Johnson, but his grandmother confirmed he was the shooter.
“We couldn’t believe he’d do something that way,” Bailey said. “We knew he was trouble, but we didn’t think he’d do anything like this.”
Inside the barricaded East Side home with Johnson were his children, his 6-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, Bailey said. At least one of the children saw their dad shoot the police officer, Bailey said.
Johnson’s mother, Corlin, is distraught, Bailey said. Corlin lives not far from the house where Johnson was shot, according to Bailey. He and his wife were living in the home where he was killed, Bailey said.
Two police officers went to the home in the 400 block of East 52nd Street just before 4 p.m. Wednesday to respond to a verbal argument. They knocked on the front door.
“A very short time later,” the uninjured officer called for priority backup, according to Tacoma Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool. Almost immediately, a “shots fired” call went out over the radio.
Johnson was killed by police gunfire early Thursday after an 11-hour standoff at the home, according to Bailey.
A SWAT team rescued the children about 3:20 a.m. from the three-story house, according to Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.
Bailey wasn’t surprised police were called to the home for reports of domestic violence, she said. Her grandson was abusive toward his wife, she said.
Johnson was cited for fourth-degree assault and unlawful display of a firearm in 2015 after a confrontation at a medical marijuana outlet, according to Tacoma Municipal Court records.
Johnson had tried to buy marijuana from the same place before, but lacked proper documentation, records state.
On May 10, 2015, he tried again. He was ordered to leave, and an employee escorted him outside. Johnson argued, then lifted his shirt to reveal a handgun tucked into his pants, records state.
The employee kept trying to make Johnson leave; in response, Johnson threw a punch. A struggle followed. The handgun fell to the ground. The employee held Johnson until a witness picked up the gun.
Johnson received a deferred prosecution, based on completion of an eight-hour anger management workshop, and two years of law-abiding behavior.
Records show he met that requirement in November 2015. However, he did not pay court costs as ordered, leading to a bench warrant, issued in March 2016.
Johnson worked at Sam and Terry’s Barbershop at South 11th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. A man at the business Thursday morning confirmed Johnson worked there, but said he didn’t know him well. He guessed Johnson had worked there roughly six to eight months.
The last time Bailey saw her grandson was roughly a year ago, she said, adding he only came around when he wanted something from her. Johnson was the oldest of his siblings, she said.
“He had a chip on his shoulder for some reason,” she said.
Bailey repeatedly described her grandson as “troubled” saying when her close-knit family got together for gatherings, it wasn’t uncommon for Johnson to “start something.”
The family was gathering on Tacoma’s East Side Thursday morning to support each other, Bailey said. She was also grieving for the police officer who was killed.
“It’s not just us hurting, they’re hurting too,” Bailey said.