Business owner temporarily closes Tacoma restaurant after series of shootings

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A local business owner says this latest shooting, while tragic, has become all too common lately in this area.

TACOMA, Wash. — Following a series of shootings in Tacoma, a business owner said he’s closing one of his restaurants until his employees feel safe to return.

“One day when [staff are] comfortable coming back and we’ll reopen the place, but until that level of comfort is there, that security that they need to feel comfortable coming in, we’re going to keep the store closed” , said Lewis Rudd, CEO of Ezell’s Famous Chicken.

Rudd has been serving chicken to customers in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood since 2011 and says the violence seen in the city is reminiscent of years past.

Wednesday’s latest shooting claimed the life of a 14-year-old girl. It’s one of three shootings at the intersection of MLK Way and South 19th Street in the past six weeks, Rudd said.

On Wednesday, police responded to calls for gunfire at 11:35 a.m. at that intersection.

Police said someone shot into a car with minors inside when it was parked around the corner. Police say the victims drove the car to the 1900 block of South Ainsworth and called for medical help, but a 14-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

The shooting was Tacoma’s 25th homicide this year. In 2020 and 2021, the annual homicide rate was 32.

Rudd remembers having experienced this level of violence before.

“To make guests come in and out comfortable and feel safe, we hired security, it was so bad,” Rudd recalled. “Then things got better. Now I see the trend turning negative again.

Rudd said his heart goes out to the family of the 14-year-old victim and hopes Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore will be able to tackle the rising homicide rate. He also believes that if the deeper issues are not resolved, the violence will continue.

“I think the economy has something to do with it, I think education has something to do with it, I think lack of opportunity has something to do with it, and I think it’s not something. that happened two years ago. It’s the result of something that’s been going on for decades,” Rudd added.

So far, no arrests have been made. The Tacoma Police Department is calling on anyone with information to contact them ASAP at CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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