Special Reports

Rumor invokes name of Brame; isn't true

Not so long ago, Cactus Jack was easy to ignore.

That was before David Brame shot his wife and himself. Since the April 26 shootings, the late police chief's name crackles like a downed electrical wire, sparking countless rumors.

The latest came Tuesday night from David Thomsen, known locally as "Cactus Jack." He testified before the Tacoma City Council and linked Brame's name to a supposed 1991 fatal shooting in Gig Harbor.

He said he'd sold a house in Gig Harbor to Brame in 1989 or 1990. He said the accidental discharge of Brame's gun killed a woman who lived with Brame at the time but the slaying was covered up.

Tacoma police said Wednesday that they've heard of no such an incident. Gig Harbor police said Thomsen's tale is a fabrication.

"Ridiculous," Lt. Bill Colberg said. "No way, no how. If anything happened like that, we'd be on top of it."

A search of Pierce County public records shows Brame owned a home in Spanaway until 1993. He and his wife, Crystal, bought a home in Gig Harbor the same year. The search failed to find any property sold to Brame by Thomsen.

Thomsen has a yarn-spinner's reputation. In the past, he told News Tribune reporters he once was "the richest man in the world" and owned every business along the Foss Waterway. He claims to have built the Tacoma Dome.

He lives in a mobile home in Fife, and admits to being hospitalized for delusions. Some people say those stem from when the metal boom of a small crane fell on Thomsen about 20 years ago.

He owns a motorless 180-foot former Coast Guard buoy tender called the Cactus, which has been moored at the head of the Foss for 15 years. He uses it as a kind of floating scrap yard.

City leaders want the vessel removed, but Thomsen refuses. He claims to lease the spot where the boat sits. In fact, the city leases it from the state.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486