Crime

He killed his mother and chased his brother down the street trying to shoot him, records say

Tacoma man charged in fatal shooting of his mother

Francis Lawson Hamilton IV was charged with fatally shooting his mother and chasing his brother down the street in an attempt to shoot him. He pled not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Bail was set at $1 million.
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Francis Lawson Hamilton IV was charged with fatally shooting his mother and chasing his brother down the street in an attempt to shoot him. He pled not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Bail was set at $1 million.

A man fatally shot his mother in their Tacoma home before chasing his brother out an upstairs window and down the street in an attempt to shoot him as well, court documents say.

Francis Lawson Hamilton IV, 27, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. He pleaded not guilty at arraignment Wednesday, and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Shelly Speir set bail at $1 million.

Charging papers give this account:

Hamilton lived with his mother, Phyllis Hamilton, and his 26-year-old brother, at a house in the 1400 block of South Madison Avenue.

His brother was upstairs in a bedroom watching YouTube videos and Hamilton repeatedly walked into his room carrying a shotgun or rifle.

Concerned that Hamilton was going to shoot him, his brother jumped out the second-story window wearing only socks and took off running.

Tacoma Police conduct an investigation inside this home Tuesday morning in the 1400 block of South Madison Street where a woman was found dead Monday night.

Hamilton followed in his mother’s Cadillac SUV.

A neighbor who heard gunshots walked into the alley and heard a man calling for help as he ran down the street. After a brief confrontation with Hamilton, the neighbor went inside and called 911.

Officers found the Cadillac driving with its lights off on Adams Street and pulled it over.

Inside was Hamilton.

He was allegedly wearing a bandolier full of shotgun shells with a machete strapped to him.

In the vehicle, police said they found a shotgun, loaded magazines and a folding knife.

Hamilton refused to answer questions or give his name after he was taken into custody.

Police found out where he lived and knocked on the family’s door but there was no answer. Knowing that Phyllis Hamilton lived there, officers called her cell phone but it went to voicemail.

About 10:15 p.m., Phyllis Hamilton’s mother pulled up and told officers she’d come to check on her daughter because she hadn’t returned repeated phone calls.

Phyllis Hamilton’s brother, who also came to check on his family, kicked in the front door.

Police found Phyllis Hamilton, 52, dead in the living room.

She’d been shot multiple times in the head and abdomen, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.

A rifle was propped against the staircase. In a locked bedroom upstairs, a computer was still on and a rifle was on the bed.

Hamilton’s uncle said his nephew had come to his house earlier in the night and kicked in his front door while nobody was home. He’d been carrying a large bag at the time.

Around 10:45 p.m., Hamilton’s brother called 911 to report that his brother had shot at him and he’d ran two miles to escape.

He did not know his mother was dead.

Five shotgun shells were found in the locked bedroom, one shotgun shell was found in the living room and one was found in the street.

Detectives are still investigating the timeline and motive of the incident.

Hamilton has no criminal history.

In 2012, he shot an intruder at his home but was not charged.

“A family member has said the defendant began to decline emotionally after this event and has become a recluse who stays in his room and plays video games all day,” prosecutors wrote in charging papers.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

Stacia Glenn covers crime and breaking news in Pierce County. She started with The News Tribune in 2010. Before that, she spent six years writing about crime in Southern California for another newspaper.

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