Tacoma Metro Parks cleared the homeless encampment Friday where Pierce County Council candidate Josh Harris shot a man living there at the end of May during an attempt by Harris and other civilians to recover allegedly stolen property.
Kitsap County detectives took over the investigation of the shooting earlier this month following concerns from the Pierce County prosecutor about Harris’ ties to Tacoma police and the department’s rank-and-file union. A spokesperson for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for an update on the investigation.
Metro Parks first learned of the encampment in April and began taking additional steps to remove people living there following the shooting on May 30 to prevent further violence, according to Metro Parks natural resources coordinator Mary Anderson.
The encampment was comprised of three sites spanning land owned by Metro Parks, Cheney Stadium, the state Department of Transportation and the city, Anderson said. A woman who witnessed part of the shooting incident and the man shot by Harris, Scott Stacy, remained at one site on Metro Parks land as of Friday morning.
“We’ve tried as hard as we can to help,” Anderson said of the woman who has a broken-down RV and truck on the property. “But her being there just keeps attracting more people to come back.”
Tacoma police told Metro Parks that staff could remove people trespassing on its property but did not have law enforcement resources to assist with the sweep, according to Anderson. She said Tacoma police did not raise any concerns about disturbing the shooting scene or displacing people who Kitsap investigators might need to contact.
Harris, who had his firearm rights restored following a felony conviction, said he fired at Stacy in self-defense as Stacy drove toward Harris’ position behind a cement block. Assault charges against Stacy were dismissed after Tacoma police withdrew from the investigation.
Metro Parks gave Stacy and the other woman living at the encampment a final notice to leave last week, Anderson said.
Parks employees were attempting to help the woman get her vehicles running as of early afternoon Friday, according to Anderson. Her vehicles will be towed if she can’t move them herself.
After Stacy and the woman leave, Anderson said, Metro Parks staff will fortify barriers at entry points to the encampment.
Anderson said Metro Parks has received reports of increased activity in the encampment recently and the department wanted to avoid additional “vigilante-type” incidents.
Metro Parks has brought cleaning services into the site and that Department of Transportation staff cleared property along the state’s right of way, according to Anderson.