2nd arrest made in murder of Tacoma mom of 7

TACOMA, Wash. - A suspect wanted in connection to the murder of a mother of seven was arrested after leading Tacoma Police on a chase through Gig Harbor on Tuesday.

On March 26, officers saw 33-year-old suspect, Apeu Sone Tauanuu, driving in the south end of Tacoma. When they tried to stop him, he sped off, leading officers in a pursuit onto State Route 16.

Tauanuu finally pulled off at Gig Harbor where he was taken into custody without incident. Officers say he hit speeds of over 120 mph before they were finally able to make an arrest.

Police say Tauanuu was wanted for a Dec. 18 homicide, where 31-year-old Ngaire Tusi was found beaten and shot in the head. She was found underneath a table in the picnic shelter in Oakland Madrona Park off of South Madison Street. Police noted that she was fully dressed and had an ankle monitor on her foot with foil around it.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner said she died from a gunshot wound to the head, and her manner of death was homicide.

In February, another suspect, Muhammad Salanoa, pleaded not guilty in connection to her death.

Detectives believe Tusi was targeted and accused of being a "snitch" and providing information to police about James Salanoa. James Salanoa was wanted for kidnapping a woman outside a Chuck E. Cheese at gunpoint and raping her at a different location. He was shot and killed by Pierce County deputies during a pursuit.

Muhammad Salanoa is James Salanoa's uncle. Both Muhammad and Tusi had mutual friends and police believe his involvement in Tusi's stemmed from wanting revenge for the death of his uncle.

Tauanuu is believed to have picked up Tusi from a house frequented by the group and took her to the park where she was shot and killed, according to court documents.

Salanoa appeared in court in early February and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder. Bail was set at $2 million for him.

Tauanuu was also charged with first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder. He pleaded not guilty on March 27.

Bail for Tauanuu was set at $1.5 million.

"It's our argument that he is not only a flight risk, as well as a significant danger to the community," said the prosecutor.

Prosecutors say that Tauanuu has a criminal history that includes a prior conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm in 2023 and two prior convictions for misdemeanor assault in 2018 and displaying a weapon. They say that he had also been arrested eight times, had nine bookings and 20 incidents with law enforcement, along with 18 cases that had been referred to law enforcement.

Who was Ngaire Tusi

A family member told FOX 13 in December that she was a beloved mother, sister and friend who will be dearly missed.

Family members say Tusi was a good person and well-known in her community. They say she was the type of person that would try to solve other people's problems and would often try to mediate for people or "talk them down" if they were frustrated.

Late December, her sister issued the following statement to FOX 13:

"Ngaire was loved, respected and well known in the community. Her murder was absolutely senseless and uncalled for. Our hearts are shattered and will never be mended the same. We are having difficulty accepting the truth and the fact that we will never see her precious face again and just to be in her lively presence will forever kill us internally. Our Dad is terminally ill with stage 4 stomach cancer and is taking the news extremely hard. Our Mom too is ill. We are forever broken. Our sister enjoyed making memories and vlogging those memories via photos and videos and she was known for it. The thought of her gone is very surreal. She was too trusting of others and saw the good in people & always overlooked peopleʻs hidden agendas - which we believe is what led to her demise. Ngaire was a loyal mother, daughter, sister and friend. She will be forever missed and forever mourned. Everyone loves and misses you dearly with all our heart, mind body and soul. Rest easy my dear sister, until we meet again at the gates of heaven. You didnʻt deserve this and justice will be served. "

"She is a family member who was well known and she was a great mother. That’s the part that is crushing, that she now has seven babies that are now going to have to do life without her," Tusi's uncle Louie said.

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