Crime

Police beat: Stolen tomatoes, a toy gun and a freaked-out neighbor

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

Aug. 1: The dispatch call reported a rare brand of domestic violence: assault with tomatoes.

Officers drove to an address in the 600 block of South 35th Street and spoke to a 49-year-old man who claimed his landlord threw tomatoes at him.

As he spoke, the man staggered. He exuded the odor of liquor. He confessed that he’d picked tomatoes from the landlord’s plants in the backyard. The landlord got mad, he said, and assaulted the tenant with the contraband, smashing the garden-fresh produce into the man’s face.

The man didn’t look injured. Officers saw no tomato remnants on his face. The man said it was all right; he would just leave.

The man didn’t look injured. Officers saw no tomato remnants on his face. The man said it was all right; he would just leave.

Officers spoke to the landlord, 48. He denied assaulting the tenant, though he said the man had stolen tomatoes from the backyard, which was annoying.

The landlord said he was trying to evict the man, and ever since the papers had been filed the tenant had been breaking items around the property.

Officers checked the tenant’s record and found an active arrest warrant for a prior offense. They booked him into the Pierce County Jail.

July 31: When you’re the one pointing the toy gun, you forfeit the right to decide whether others have reason to fear.

The dispatch call reported a man pointing a gun at a convenience store clerk. Two officers drove to an address in the 2600 block of South 38th Street and spoke to her.

The clerk said she was inside the store when she saw someone run across the property: a man with a thin build, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a black jacket, a blue backpack and blue jeans.

The clerk caught the man’s eye, she said. He raised what looked like a silver handgun and pointed it at her, then moved on, away from the store, saying nothing.

The clerk caught the man’s eye, she said. He raised what looked like a silver handgun and pointed it at her, then moved on, away from the store, saying nothing.

Did the woman feel threatened? Yes, she said.

Within minutes, another officer spotted and detained a man fitting the description, who said his gun was a toy.

The first officer drove the clerk to a place where she could see the man’s face.

“That’s the guy,” the clerk said.

The officers arrested the man, 35, and found the weapon. It was a pellet gun, made of clear plastic. Officers booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of intimidation with a weapon.

July 30: Pop quiz: You’ve just returned home from a grilling party at a friend’s house, and you and your wife are too drunk to walk a straight line. What do you do?

a) Go to bed.

b) Find one of your guns, squeeze off a couple of rounds and freak out your neighbor.

The 43-year-old Tacoma man chose option b. Officers responding to a report of shots fired drove to an address in the 1000 block of South Oxford Street. They spoke to a nervous witness who said he had been snoozing when a popping sound woke him up.

The witness looked outside and saw his neighbor lying in the front yard with a gun in his hand. The witness went back into his own house; the neighbor got up and followed him.

The witness, frightened of the gun, told the neighbor to take it away, get it out of the house. The two men had always gotten along, the witness said. The neighbor didn’t say or do anything threatening. He disassembled the gun and put the pieces on the floor, then gathered them up and left.

Where was the neighbor? Next door, the witness said, pointing.

At almost the same moment, the neighbor stepped out of his house. Officers detained him and stowed him in a patrol car.

The neighbor, slurring heavily, said he and his wife came home from a party and lost track of each other inside the house. His wife “came out of the right side of the wall,” he said.

The neighbor, slurring heavily, said he and his wife came home from a party and lost track of each other inside the house. His wife “came out of the right side of the wall,” he said. He kept talking, but the words made no sense.

Did he own guns? Yes.

Had he fired them tonight?

No, the neighbor said.

Officers found two shell casings in the front yard. They checked the house and found the neighbor’s wife sleeping inside. Like her husband, she was wasted, and hard to understand when she spoke. Asked about guns, she guided officers to a dressing table and a safe.

Officers had to stop her and tell her not to touch anything, just show them where to look. They found two guns. One of them matched the caliber of the shell casings outside.

Officers booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of discharging a weapon in city limits.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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