The Silencing of The Tuba Man

This story breaks my heart. “The Tuba Man” Ed McMichael used to come into the bank I worked at in Ballard. He was the nicest guy and was always in a good mood. At first glance, a lot of people thought he was homeless or even a little crazy. He was neither. He just wore goofy hats and had a scruffy beard. 
He was definitely unique. He loved Seattle and he loved to entertain. He also had credentials. In 1973 he joined the band at North Seattle Community College. He went on to perform with the Seattle Youth Symphony, the Cascade Symphony of Edmonds, and for a decade, he was the principal tubist with the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra. A friend of his suggested he take his talents to the streets. His first performance was at the Kingdome on December 23, 1989. It was Steve Largent's farewell game. People waiting in line started putting money in his tuba case and a career was born. I can't remember a concert or a game where he wasn't there. He was like an honorary greeter. He'd sit outside the Key Arena and belt out the tunes of the concert that was happening that night. I swear he knew EVERY song ever written. (You haven't lived until you've heard Black Sabbath on the tuba.) He had a playlist for every event. A crowd favorite outside Mariner games was “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar. If the Seahawks lost, we’d all walk back to our cars listening to “Chariots of Fire.” Rain or shine, he subjected himself to the elements because he knew how much everyone enjoyed it. Unfortunately, on October 25, 2008, The Tuba Man was silenced. Five loser thug teenagers attacked Ed at a bus top at 5th and Mercer in front of Channel 9. They smashed his head against the pavement and robbed him of his wallet and ring. A cop happened to drive up to the scene as it was happening.
Bus Stop at 5th and Mercer
Two 15 year-old's were arrested on the spot and the stolen ring was recovered. Police began searching for the three who fled while Ed was transported to Harborview Medical Center. For one of the teens, Billy  Chambers, it was his second crime of the night. He had already robbed a man at gunpoint. As for Ed, he was released a few hours after the attack and returned to his apartment at 2721 4th Avenue. He stayed in bed for a week. 
Ed's Apartment Building
His brother arrived on the morning of November 3rd to take him to a doctor’s appointment. Sadly, he found Ed deceased in his bed, due to his head injury. On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, a memorial was held at the Qwest Event Center and 1,500 people attended. Many of them wore silly hats in Ed’s honor. It was a tough loss for Seattle. Walking into events now just isn’t the same. I’m bummed for the people who’ll never get to experience him.
Inside The Memorial
Only three of the five teens would be charged with manslaughter. There were several witnesses at the bus stop but they refused to testify at the trial. Billy, along with Kenneth Kelly and Ja'Mari Jones were all tried as juveniles. They each received only 36 to 72 weeks in juvenile detention and since they’ve been out, two of them have done nothing but continue to wreak havoc on the city. In July of 2010, Billy Chambers and two others were arrested near 6th and Seneca after robbing a pedestrian at gunpoint in front of Crowne Plaza.
Crowne Plaza 6th and Seneca
In February of 2011, Billy was arrested again for armed robbery. While he was being booked he bragged to the police officer that he was one of the teens who killed The Tuba Man. In June of 2011 at 23rd and Jackson, he rear-ended and side-swiped the car of a woman who'd reported him to police for allegedly stealing several items from her car earlier in the year. In October of 2011, Billy was sentenced to 22 months in prison.
23rd and Jackson

We can all expect to read about his latest crimes sometime around August of 2013. Kenneth Kelly was charged with robbery in 2010 and in February of 2012 he led SPD’s Gang Unit on a high speed chase and was found with a loaded weapon. As of April 7, 2012 he is still in jail on $100,000 bail. Not long after his death, someone noticed Ed had purchased a paver tile in front of The Children’s Museum as a contribution. 


UPDATE:  Jan. 2nd, 2013 Bellevue police say Ja’mari Jones was arrested Wednesday night by Lakewood police. The convicted “Tuba Man” killer who’s now accused of gunning a guy down at a nightclub, was taken into custody during a routine traffic stop at 8 p.m. in the 10800 block of Pacific Highway South in Lakewood. Police ran Jones’ license plate and discovered the car, a Toyota Corolla, had been reported stolen from Auburn. Police charged Jones with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting and killing of Deshawn Milliken on Christmas Eve morning. The incident left another man from Renton injured.Bellevue police were notified of the arrest and Jones was transported to the Bellevue Police Department jail. Jones was booked for Murder 2 and is being held on a $5 million bond. His girlfriend was also in the car during his arrest and she was booked for rendering criminal assistance.