Community Police & Fire

Highway 16 traffic helps police nab suspect in Tacoma homicide

Posted on March 29th, 2024 By:

The typical rush-hour traffic snarl at Highway 16 and Wollochet Drive helped police catch a murder suspect on Tuesday, March 26.

According to documents filed in Pierce County Superior Court, Apele Sone Tauanuu, 33, fled from Tacoma Police officers who spotted him in a black BMW around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday on South Stevens Street in Tacoma. Police suspected Tauanuu in a homicide that took place in December 2023 on Madison Street in Tacoma.

Tacoma officers pursued Tauanuu, who eventually got on westbound Highway 16 and crossed the Narrows Bridge. Tauanuu drove his BMW at speeds of up to 125 mph, officers wrote in charging documents.

However, it’s hard to get anywhere on Highway 16 in Gig Harbor around rush hour. Traffic slowed to a crawl, and Tauannu tried to swerve off the highway to take the Wollochet exit.

“The BMW was forced to stop when it became boxed in by other motorists and the guard rail while waiting for the traffic light” on Wollochet, one of the pursuing officers wrote in his report on the incident.

Officers from the Gig Harbor Police Department and Tacoma Sheriff’s Office responded. After some tense moments, they took Tauannu into custody.

This image taken from a Washington State Department of Transportation traffic camera shows the scene Tuesday, March 26, at Highway 16 and Wollochet.

Murder charge

Pierce County prosecutors charged Tauannu, along with Muhammad Takseem Salanoa, of killing Ngaire Tusi, 31, of Tacoma on Dec. 18, 2023 on South Madison Street in Tacoma. Prosecutors say Tauannu and Salanoa killed Tusi because they believed she provided information to law enforcement about a rape and other crimes allegedly committed by Salanoa’s nephew.

Police shot and killed the nephew, James Salanoa, after he brandished a weapon at them following a pursuit on Nov. 28, 2023.

Tusi was a mother of seven children.