Will James | KNKX

Will James

Special projects reporter and producer

Will James reports and produces special projects, including podcasts and series, for KNKX. He created and hosted the Outsiders podcast, chronicling homelessness in Olympia for more than a year, in partnership with The Seattle Times. He co-hosted and helped produce the Transmission podcast, telling stories about COVID-19 in the Pacific Northwest. He previously covered the South Sound region for KNKX, and came to the station after reporting for newspapers in his home state of New York. 

Ways to Connect

In this Feb. 18, 2020, photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma. Troyer was elected Pierce County sheriff in November.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says his office will investigate Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer for possible crimes related to an incident on Jan. 27. Early that morning, Troyer followed a Black newspaper carrier through his Tacoma neighborhood, thinking the driver was suspicious.

Troyer then called 911, prompting a heavy response by police who thought the county's top law enforcement official was in danger.

A woman holds up a George Floyd poster across from the Hennepin County Government Center, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, after jurors found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the death of Floyd.
Jim Mone / The Associated Press


Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on three charges related to the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd – unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. That verdict in Minneapolis sent a wave of relief throughout the country, including here in Washington.

People wear masks as they cross a street Tuesday, July 7, 2020, near a sign for the Pike Place Market in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Even as older and more at-risk people continue to get vaccinated, the Seattle area is still at risk for a “fourth wave” of the coronavirus. That’s according to King County’s top public health doctor.

In this Feb. 18, 2020, photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma. Troyer was elected Pierce County sheriff in November.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press file

Pierce County leaders say they are "concerned" and want more information about an incident in which county Sheriff Ed Troyer followed a Black newspaper delivery driver and then called 911 on him, prompting a large police response.

Law enforcement fills a Tacoma intersection on Jan. 23 after a police officer responding to reports of street racing drove through a crowd. The burned rubber from the illegal racing and burnouts marks the pavement at Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

In January, social-media videos circulated widely in Tacoma and beyond. They showed a Tacoma police officer driving his patrol vehicle through a group of people. Two were injured.

Officer Khanh Phan was responding to an illegal gathering of people watching drivers do stunts in cars in a downtown intersection. Police say he feared for his life when some people in the crowd gathered around his vehicle.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

When 65-year-old Bonnie McGuire was vaccinated earlier this year for COVID-19, a huge weight of worry disappeared in an instant. 

“I felt amazingly serene," she says. "It was a strange feeling. I've never had this experience, and none of us in this country ever have, where this shot will keep you, you know, you will not die on a ventilator alone in a hospital – with this one little jab in your arm. It's startling the simplicity of that." 

The silent march for Manny Ellis began at the New Covenant Pentecostal Church in Tacoma and was accompanied by a steady drum beat as protesters made their way to People’s Park.
Ronnie Estoque / South Seattle Emerald

Days before the anniversary of Manuel Ellis’ death, about 200 people marched a mile through Tacoma, quiet except for the beating of a drum.

The “silent march” Sunday was organized by Black religious leaders in Tacoma to commemorate Ellis, who was killed by Tacoma police on March 3, 2020.

Adrian Florez / KNKX


Emergencies do something to our brains. A few months after a catastrophe, people find themselves more irritable and less able to concentrate. Rates of depression and anxiety rise. Same with substance use and suicide. This has been observed in disaster after disaster. 

In fact there are three distinct phases: the honeymoon phase, the disillusionment phase and the recovery phase. People who lived through Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 know what all of this feels like.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Diagnosed COVID-19 cases have been dropping for weeks in Washington, following record high rates of infection through the holiday season. But King County's top public health official said the decline is likely temporary. 

Tacoma Police and other law enforcement officers stand in an intersection near the site where a Tacoma police officer drove through a crowd of people on Saturday night.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

10:40 a.m. Wednesday: Updated with statements from the Tacoma City Council and Tacoma Police Union Local No. 6.

Street racing, protests and a police officer driving through a crowd and running over one person: These issues were the focus of two back-to-back meetings Monday night in Tacoma. 

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Officials across Washington state are trying to vaccinate people for COVID-19 more quickly, and some of those plans begin this week.

Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

King County public health officials estimate that it will take six months to vaccinate enough people to tamp down the coronavirus pandemic, even with an aggressive plan to vaccinate 16,000 people per day.

To speed up the process, county officials plan to open two high-volume vaccination clinics. They anticipate the effort will begin by Feb. 1, according to County Executive Dow Constantine. 

Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in Tacoma police custody March 3. Ellis is remembered as a musician and father whose life was marked by  by pain, struggle, and a search for redemption.
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

Author’s note: As protests against police brutality and racism swept the United States in 2020, the name of a Tacoma man was sometimes shouted alongside George Floyd's and Breonna Taylor's. Manuel Ellis was killed by Tacoma police on March 3 after he encountered officers on a dark residential street. For protesters, Ellis' death was part of a pattern of police using inappropriate force against Black people. As KNKX spoke to Ellis' family and friends, other themes emerged as well: the ways in which childhood trauma and mental illness can alter the course of a person's life, and how not everyone has the same access to treatment. This story offers a glimpse into the life of someone who became one of 2020's unfortunate symbols. (This story originally aired June 12, 2020.)

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

When a new tool called Housing Connector launched in King County last year, caseworkers responding to homelessness said it was quietly revolutionary. They said it made it easier to work with landlords and move people from shelters and encampments into apartments. 

Airlift Northwest flight nurse Mikaela Hagberg looks on as she receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations at UW Medicine on Dec. 15, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Doctors and nurses on the critical-care team of Seattle-based medical system Swedish were left out of an initial electronic call-out inviting staff to get the coronavirus vaccine, sparking confusion and anger among workers caring for some of the sickest COVID-19 patients, according to internal emails and meeting recordings.

Will James / KNKX

Update: The Pierce County medical examiner's office has identified the victim of the shooting as Patrick N. Shenaurlt, 38, of Parkland, and ruled his death a homicide. The cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds.

A man who was homeless was shot and killed during a suspected vigilante attack on a Tacoma encampment last week, according to court documents and witnesses.

The long-vacant Gault Middle School building in Tacoma.
Will James / KNKX

UPDATE, Nov. 24: A protest organized by Tacoma housing advocates Monday night ended with a march to the home of the city’s mayor. The demonstration started at the Tacoma Mall, where activists called for creation of a so-called community land trust, to guarantee more affordable housing in the city.

Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

For weeks, public health officials have been sending the same message: confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising quickly in many parts of Washington state, and it's more important than ever to take precautions. 

But, amid "pandemic fatigue" and muddled messaging from political leaders, it's gotten harder to break through with that advice, King County's top public health official said Friday. 

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Pioneer Square on Wednesday night to call for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. They also stressed the need to "protect every person" for truly equitable elections in the future.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Seattle on Wednesday night, calling for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. But they stressed that their work does not end with the election.

Leaders of the rally in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, titled “Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person,” tried to channel concern over the election into local causes they’ve been advocating for years. They made the argument that every vote cannot truly count if some people are disenfranchised or killed.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This series started with Jessica. We find out what happened to her.

Donate to KNKX:  knkx.org/support

Subscribe to The Seattle Times:  seattletimes.com/subscribe

A person wears a mask as she waits to enter the RAM Restaurant and Brewery, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Tacoma, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Pierce County officials, in an effort to help restaurants stay in business and retain jobs, will offer an incentive for customers to dine inside restaurants next month.

The two-week "restaurant rally," is scheduled for Nov. 8-19, excluding Friday and Saturday. Restaurants will offer a 30 percent discount to customers who dine inside, and then the county will reimburse the businesses. 

Episode 9: On the Ground

Oct 14, 2020
Adrian Florez / KNKX

What’s with all the trash? Should you give cash to someone who asks for it? We took your questions about homelessness to the people best equipped to respond: those who are homeless themselves.

Donate to KNKX:  knkx.org/support

Subscribe to The Seattle Times:  seattletimes.com/subscribe

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, KNKX and The Seattle Times' Project Homeless team joined forces to make Outsiders, a documentary-style podcast that gave listeners a close-up view of unsheltered homelessness.

Seven months later, Outsiders is back with a three-episode finale that seeks to answer some of the questions the podcast laid out in the beginning.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Olympia’s response to homelessness defied conventions. Did it work? A year later, we look at the city’s results and whether they point to a way forward.

Donate to KNKX: knkx.org/support

Subscribe to The Seattle Times: seattletimes.com/subscribe

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Stay tuned for a three-episode finale that completes the story we started telling you early this year. The first of those episodes drops Oct. 7.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr arrives for a panel discussion on combatting human trafficking on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Atlanta. The Department of Justice is distributing nearly $100 million to fight human trafficking nationwide.
Brynn Anderson / The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Justice is giving out nearly $100 million dollars to fight human trafficking nationwide. The recipients include six Washington-based organizations that help trafficking victims. In total, the groups will receive a combined $2.6 million. 

Community members gathered in June for a celebration of life for Manuel Ellis, who was killed by Tacoma police in March. In this photo, one of the attendees hangs a flyer with Ellis’ image that says “Happy Father’s Day Manny.”
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

More than six months have passed since 33-year-old Manuel Ellis was killed by Tacoma police on a residential street in March. He died after telling officers he couldn't breathe. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide. 

Since then, Ellis' death has sparked protests, vigils, efforts to reform statewide police-accountability laws, and legal action against the City of Tacoma. Meanwhile, the state patrol is investigating whether any of the four Tacoma officers who were at the scene should be charged with crimes. Ellis became a local example of the inequities people around the country were protesting after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Mental health experts warn that Washington residents are entering a critical period, six to nine months into a disaster, when mental health problems tend to arise or worsen.

This week, Washington marks six months since a stay-at-home order first went into effect. Six months marks a threshold between an initial "honeymoon" phase of the pandemic and a more trying "disillusionment" phase, experts say.

In this January 2020 file photo, tents are pictured inside a homeless encampment in Olympia.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Port of Olympia officials and Thurston County sheriff’s deputies displaced an estimated eight unsheltered people from a wooded Tumwater property on Monday, sparking objections from activists concerned “sweeps” of camps add pressure to a shelter system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Heat rising from the roadway blur the image of a fire truck driving through a burned out area Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, during a media tour to survey wildfire damage in Bonney Lake.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A wildfire that has consumed a hillside overlooking the Sumner Valley in East Pierce County continues to burn. The Sumner Grade Fire, which started Monday evening, has burned an estimated 800 acres in the Bonney Lake area. It’s destroyed four homes.

Meanwhile, a number of separate brush fires and structure fires have flared up nearby, putting an unprecedented strain on fire districts’ pool of resources.