US Army Rangers and Tacoma Gangs Clash in 1989 Hilltop Shootout – TVovermind
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US Army Rangers and Tacoma Gangs Clash in 1989 Hilltop Shootout – TVovermind

In the late 1980s, Tacoma, Washington, saw a sharp increase in cases Gang violencefueled by the crack epidemic. The Hilltop neighborhood, in particular, was known for its rampant crime and was considered ground zero for gang activity in Washington state. It was during this volatile period that a dramatic shootout between U.S. Army Rangers and local gang members occurred.

US Army Rangers and Tacoma Gangs Clash in 1989 Hilltop Shootout – TVovermind

Staff Sergeant William Foulk, a Ranger stationed at Fort Lewis, bought a property on Ash Street in the Hilltop neighborhood for $10,000. Despite the neighborhood’s dismal reputation, he saw potential in the investment. But his purchase put him in the heart of Tacoma’s gangs.

U.S. Army Rangers and Tacoma gangs clashed in the Hilltop Shootout in 1989.

Sergeant Foulk quickly realised that the house next door was being used as crack cocaine center sale by Crips gang members. Concerned about the rising drug crime in his neighborhood, Foulk began recording people visiting the house to gather evidence.

Gang members quickly discovered Foulk’s surveillance system and responded by first throwing objects at his camera and later resorting to more violent means — shooting it.

U.S. Army Rangers and Tacoma gangs clashed in the Hilltop Shootout in 1989.

The confrontation escalated on September 23, 1989, when Foulk’s home was shot up by an estimated 15 to 20 gang members. Anticipating such an attack, Foulk had previously called in his fellow Rangers for backup. They took up defensive positions, demonstrating their military training with effective strategy and awareness.

The shooting lasted from 10 to 30 minutes and involved the firing of more than 100 rounds. Remarkably, no one was injured or killed.

Tense stalemate ends without casualties

The intensity of the confrontation eventually caught the attention of Tacoma police, who arrived to deescalate the situation. Most of the gang members fled, but two were detained and charged with assault and weapons offenses. Rangers were not charged although their weapons were confiscated.

Effects and Community Response

The Ash Street shooting caused significant changes in the Tacoma community. As Major Clyde Newman noted: I think what’s happening now is we’re going to Ash Street and we’re cleaning them up… We’ve got a real concentration of bad guys there, and the neighborhood has finally come face to face with them. The fact that nobody’s been hurt – it’s kind of amazing.

After that incident, residents became more proactive in their efforts to reclaim the neighborhood from gangs, leading to initiatives like community policing programs and increased pressure on city officials to devote more resources to law enforcement.

Hilltop Transformation

The Hilltop neighborhood has undergone a significant transformation since then. Once described as the “Wild West,” it’s now one of Tacoma’s safer neighborhoods. The chaotic Ash Street shootout also proved financially beneficial for Staff Sergeant Foulk. His investment has seen a huge increase in value; properties in the area are now valued between $330,000 and $450,000, according to Redfin.