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Grandmother killed in drive-by in Pierce County, marks 14th homicide this year

EATONVILLE, Wash. -- Two murders overnight in Pierce County brought the number of  homicides in the county to 14 so far this year, surpassing that of 2017.

In 2017, there were 11 murders in Pierce County.

In the latest case, investigators were seen going in and out of an Eatonville house.

They measured distance and counted the bullets fired at the home.

“All of a sudden a whole light show started,” one neighbor said.

Detectives say seven to 10 gunshots were fired around 3 a.m. Monday.

Soon after gunshots erupted, one neighbor said she saw one person running out of the house and yelling for someone to call 911.

The home along Webster Road East is tucked away from the street but a bullet managed to pierce two walls, killing a woman inside. Investigators say the victim is a grandmother in her mid 60s.

“We believe it was from a vehicle that drove by the house and we believe the house was targeted,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Detective Ed Troyer said.

But the elderly woman killed may have not been the intended target; instead, detectives say they are questioning a man who lives at the house who has been in trouble with the law before.

Late Monday night, the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office identified the deceased woman as Joanne Boyer, 66, of Eatonville. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head.

“We will be investigating and trying to determine what he's got himself mixed up in that may have led up to this,” Troyer said.

Several people were inside the home, including two children, at the time of the drive-by shooting. The incident marked the 14th homicide in Pierce County.

“I hear 14; you know, one is too many for me, 14 just sounds incredibly ridiculous,” Eatonville resident Michael Blake said.

Although most of the murders were domestic violence situations, Blake says the uptick in violence is still unnerving. He says he’s worried about it so much that his family is thinking about moving.

“Every time my wife sends me a text of a house or let us rent this one, the first thing I do is I go on a crime site to see how much crime activity there is,” Blake said.

Other neighbors said that the Eatonville neighborhood is still safe and a drive-by shooting is an anomaly.

But it’s still one more homicide to investigate for detectives already taxed with many cases.

Before the paperwork is done on the last murder, detectives are rushing to another call.

Even before the fatal drive-by shooting in Eatonville, investigators had their hands full with a shooting in the South Hill area.

Detectives say a 27-year-old man claimed he had shot and killed his 22-year-old cousin at a home on 97th Avenue. That man has been arrested and it’s still unclear what led up to the shooting.

“Detectives are just inundated with these major calls, because we are still working the rapes and burglaries and all the other major crimes that go on besides the homicides,” Troyer said.