Crime

Police beat: A cannon shot, a hit-and-run, and sanctioned shoplifting

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police.

Dec. 19: The explosion was loud enough to draw firefighters and a 911 call. It came from a makeshift cannon.

Officers drove to a hotel parking lot in the 6800 block of Tacoma Mall Boulevard. The 911 caller had reported a man in a hoodie rolling a metallic object behind a recycling bin and running away.

Firefighters were already on the scene when officers arrived. The metallic object was unmistakable: a small cannon, 3 feet long with wheels, facing a nearby apartment complex.

The ammunition appeared to be shredded newspaper, found on the side of the parking lot. Firefighters said they heard the explosion from 20 blocks away.

One officer spoke to a hotel clerk to see whether surveillance video might reveal any hints. The hunch was good. Video showed a white 1998 Volkswagen Jetta in the parking lot, and a man in a hoodie standing next to it.

The metallic object was unmistakable: a small cannon, three feet long with wheels, facing a nearby apartment complex.

The footage showed the man pushing the cannon toward the recycling bin. A puff of smoke soon followed. Footage from another camera showed the man walking into a hotel room.

Officers soon found the car, still parked nearby. Inside, on the rear floorboard, was a black plastic container marked “flammable,” and a wooden stick duct-taped at both ends.

A witness at the apartment complex said she saw the man in the hoodie standing next to the cannon. She saw him light the fuse. Moments later, she and another witness heard the explosion. Both witnesses saw the man drag the cannon behind the recycling bin.

Back at the hotel, officers found the man in the hoodie. He was 46. He denied knowing anything about the explosion or the cannon.

Officers explained that he was caught on tape. The man caved. He said the cannon was filled with newspaper, and no projectiles. Officers cited him for reckless endangerment, wrote him a ticket with a court date and released him at the scene.

Dec. 18: The hit-and-run suspect tried to talk his way out of a ticket; he failed.

The dispatch call brought an officer to the intersection of South 56th Street and South Cushman Avenue. The officer found two cars and three people. One driver was an 80-year-old man. He said he was stopped at the intersection behind another driver when a blue sedan slammed into him from behind, pushing him into the car ahead.

The driver of the car ahead was a 35-year-old woman. She said she stopped for a pedestrian crossing the street when she was caught in the chain reaction. The blue sedan fled, but the woman managed to get the license plate, she said.

The officer ran the plate, found an owner’s name and called a number. The owner wasn’t home. The officer left a message. Later in the day, the owner returned the call. She said she loaned her car to a friend that day, and gave a name.

The friend was a 29-year-old man. He denied being in a collision. He said he borrowed the car, a 1998 Mazda Protege, to go to a job interview. He had left the car running while he picked up his forgotten wallet, he said, and the vehicle had been stolen.

The friend was a 29-year-old man. He denied being in an accident. He said he borrowed the car, a 1998 Mazda Protege, to go to a job interview. He had left the car running while he picked up his forgotten wallet, he said, and the vehicle had been stolen.

The man said he texted his friend to tell her about the theft. The officer asked to see the text messages. The man fidgeted. The officer asked for the truth.

The man crumbled. He said he had been on his way home when one of the other cars pulled in front of him before he could stop. The officer asked for a description of the car. The man got the color wrong.

The officer cited the man for misdemeanor hit and run, driving without a valid license or insurance and following too closely. The man took the ticket with the accompanying court notification and signed it.

Dec. 18: The scam equated to an authorized five-finger discount. A loss prevention officer uncovered it.

Two officers drove to a retail store in the 2200 block of North Pearl Street. They spoke to the loss prevention officer, who pointed to an employee, a 52-year-old woman.

Voided sales receipts provided the evidence. The receipts showed three transactions over the previous two weeks, amounting to $359 worth of merchandise.

The numbers were too big, the loss prevention officer said, and all of them tied to the same employee. When he confronted her, she admitted it, and offered to reimburse the store.

The numbers were too big, the loss prevention officer said, and all of them tied to the same employee. When he confronted her, she admitted it, and offered to reimburse the store.

Officers spoke to the woman. She said she owed a $200 debt to another woman, and couldn’t pay it back. Instead, she allowed the woman to make off with the voided merchandise.

The employee gave the woman’s first name, and no more. She said she had just been released from a two-week stay at the hospital after recovering from a respiratory infection.

Officers cited the employee for misdemeanor theft, gave her a ticket with a court date and released her at the scene.

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