Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police and the Pierce County Sheriff.
Sept. 30: The swordsman carried two blades: one sheathed in a dragon-head cane, the other up his sleeve.
At 5:17 a.m., a 911 caller reported a middle-age man with a beard and a green down jacket, threatening people with a sword.
Three officers converged on the 900 block of Court A in downtown Tacoma. The first officer spotted the man instantly, flicked on his emergency lights and stepped out of the patrol car.
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The swordsman was 55. He caught the drift, dropped the cane and said, “It’s a sword, but I put it down.”
The officer stepped forward, took the man’s backpack and cuffed him. A patdown revealed the second blade: a 20-inch samurai sword in a battered black scabbard, inside the sleeve of the green down jacket. The man also carried a broken-tipped buck knife in his pocket.
A second officer spoke to the 911 caller, who said the swordsman had been talking to himself and shining a flashlight at a cardboard box in the middle of the street. The swordsman had seen the caller and turned the flashlight toward him.
The caller had walked away. The swordsman had followed. The caller heard a metal clang, turned and saw the sword. The caller said he didn’t feel threatened, but thought the swordsman’s behavior was suspicious.
The first officer told the swordsman he was under arrest for possession of dangerous weapons. The man demanded an attorney.
The officer asked no questions, but the man started talking in the patrol car. He said he carried swords because dangerous people abducted women in subways. He said “that guy” (the 911 caller) was standing in the dark and wouldn’t explain why.
The man added that he carried swords all the time and that local officers knew it. The officer booked him into the Pierce County Jail.
Oct. 2: The four soldiers were spoiling for a fight; talk of peace left them unmoved.
The Tacoma officer was working off-duty security at a club in the 2800 block of Sixth Avenue. At 1:30 a.m., he broke up a shoving match.
The combatants: four soldiers and a group of civilians. Everyone was shouting. The civilians taunted the soldiers. The soldiers taunted the civilians.
The officer tried low-key intervention at first, telling the parties to break it up and not ruin the night. It didn’t work. The two sides were still pushing.
The officer raised his voice, separated the groups, and pulled the soldiers aside.
One soldier was especially hot.
“You can’t talk to me like that,” he told the officer. “I’m a sergeant in the Army.”
The officer said he was a veteran. He talked of professionalism. He recited a portion of the noncommissioned officer’s code that spoke of leadership.
The angry soldier said he wanted the officer’s badge number and added that he would file a complaint.
The officer told the soldiers to wait on the corner for a cab. Thinking the situation was resolved, he briefly returned to other duties. Not for long. The civilian group was on the opposite side of the street, and the soldier group started shouting taunts and challenges to fight.
Again, the officer separated the groups. Judging that the soldiers were the instigators, he told them they were going to be cited for fighting in public, and asked for identification.
The soldiers weren’t happy. One of them refused to provide identification. The officer started to cuff him. The man flexed; the officer restrained him. The other three soldiers moved in, swearing and shouting.
The reluctant soldier finally agreed to give his identification. The officer cuffed him, after a small struggle. By now, two more officers had arrived; together, they horsed the soldier into the patrol car.
The first officer returned to the other three soldiers. They hadn’t resisted; he intended to write citations and release them.
The civilians, still watching, started to protest. Two officers held them off.
The first officer spoke to the three soldiers and lectured. He’d warned them multiple times, right? The soldiers agreed.
He’d told them to leave, right? The soldiers agreed.
This could have been avoided, right?
One soldier blurted, “They are talking (crap)! What do you want me to do?”
The officer talked of being “the bigger man” and walking away. He handed the soldiers their citations.
The civilians were still mad. The officer spoke to them as he wrote more citations. The civilians said the soldiers were being treated differently. The officer said everyone was getting the same charge: fighting in public.
One civilian cooled down a little after that. He said everybody had been talking smack and that he was going to back up his friend if a fight started.
The soldier who initially refused to identify himself was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of fighting in public and obstructing an officer.
Sept. 27: Moments after the store manager paid a man $20 for a used iPhone, the device rang.
The caller was the phone’s owner, who said her device had just been stolen from a church in Tacoma.
The manager looked around; the man who sold it was gone. The clerk called 911.
A sheriff’s deputy drove to the phone store in the 5300 block of 128th Street East.
By the time he arrived, the phone’s owner had reclaimed it. The manager showed the deputy surveillance video of the stranger who sold the phone. The deputy looked, and noted the description: early 50s, 6 feet tall, 220 pounds, brown hair and a baseball cap.
The man had said he needed gas money, the manager said. He gave a name but no identification.
The deputy spoke to the phone’s owner, who said the phone and her purse had been stolen from the church. She recognized the man in the video; he had been hanging around at the church, asking for money.
Shortly after that, the woman said, she found that someone had used her credit card to buy gas at a station in Tacoma. She had called Tacoma police to report the incident.
The deputy gathered the information, wrote up his notes, and forwarded the report to Tacoma police, who assigned the incident to a detective. As of Friday, the mysterious phone thief was still on the loose.