Overview of Eddie Tate
Eddie “Tennessee” Tate was a fighter since the day he was born.
Eddie’s life wouldn’t have been documented so well if it wasn’t for Robert Gumpert’s work oringinally photographing prison tattoos in the Old San Bruno County Jail, south of San Francisco in 2006.
It’s Robert’s interview with Eddie that gives us color to his life.
While at Old Bruno, the oldest of San Francisco’s jails, Robert met Eddie who said he moved to The Golden City after the 1989 earthquake, and had picked up the nickname “Tennessee” from growing up in the rural parts of the “Volunteer State.” He was using his incarcerated time to get his high-school diploma, and was clean for 16 months — the longest time he could ever remember.
Old Bruno closed in August of 2006 in part becuase Eddie and five other prisoners filed a lawsuit alleging the facility was overcrowded, and a place not fit to live or work in.
Before ending up in jail, Eddie didn’t have the easiest life.
Since he was described as a hyperactive infant, Eddie shared that his father would put alcohol in his bottle to knock him out and get him to go to sleep. From then on, Eddie told Robert, “I’ve been on some substance or another my entire life.”
When he was in school, he gave teachers such a hard time that he would fail nearly every class — but his teachers passed him “just to get rid of me.”
Eddie had tattoos on his shoulders the read 51-50, police code for “danger to self or others.” He explained to Robert that he was “or others” type, and was quick to anger if pushed.
A few years later, in early 2016, Robert ran into Eddie again while Robert was photographing the streets of San Francisco. He says that Eddie “settled into a life outside of incarceration.” Things were looking up — he had scored new clothes and was staying on 14th Street and Shotwell where he was fixing people's bikes
No one could imagine that in just a few short months, the senseless double homicide would take place.
At some point, Eddie met Lindsay McCollum, and the two developed a relationship. Lindsay was living with Eddie in his box structure at the time of the murders. She tragically lost her life alongside Eddie.
“Deaths like theirs, of homeless men and women on the San Francisco streets, are hardly unique,” Robert wrote. “But I knew Eddie Tate a little, and I will miss him just as those that knew Lindsay McCollum will miss her.”
December 18, 2016.
A woman who works for a ride-hailing service pulls into the 76 gas station on the corner near 16th Street. The witness hears a muffled bang coming from the cluster of nearby tents.
Moments later, a woman emerges from the nearby tents. The witness says the woman was "walking like a zombie" while stumbling. The witness says she was making strange movements. Finally, the witness realized that the woman was hurt because of the blood on her hair and face.
“It was awful,” the witness told SFGate.
The witness calls 911, and pleads with dispatchers to send help. While she was waiting for medics to arrive, the witness saw the hurt woman, later identified as Lindsay, ripping off her clothes. It's important to note that this behavior is not uncommon in fatal situations where there's a failure in the person's thermoregulatory system. The increase of blood flow to the surface of the skin induces a feeling of warmth.
At the same time, Lily, Lindsay’s gentile pit bull emerged and stayed by Lindsay’s side through it all.
Emergency services arrived within 3 minutes. By that time, Lindsay is mostly naked and in the fetal position on the ground. She is seen rocking back and forth, before she convulses onto her back, hitting her head on the pavement. EMS started providing CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
“She didn’t belong there,” the woman said, describing Lindsay. “She had nice trendy clothes on. She was not a street person, and if she was she just got there. Somebody loves her and took care of her.”
Emergency services discover a man, later identified as Eddie Tate, just feet away from Lindsay near his makeshift wooden shelter on the sidewalk. He was rushed to the hospital, but succumbed to his injuries.
Police release a statement saying that they're looking for two possible suspects — at least one of them is male — seen running from the scene, but they have not identified them or many any arrests.
The day after the murders, law enforcement came into the neighborhood and had to tell the people experiencing homelessness to move — for the investigation and for their own safety. Friends of both Eddie and Lindsay are seen by journalists rummaging through Lindsay and Eddie’s belongingings before SF Recology waste management workers cleaned up the spot.
Along the remaining items was a board used as a makeshift wall. The board was spray painted to read “Tennesse” [sic] with the numbers 5150 — echoing back to Eddie’s shoulder tattoos.
The heartbreak in the friends’ eyes can be felt through the pictures.
Where the case stands today.
A forensic artist produces a sketch of a person of interest in the investigation. No further information is released, and the fact that the original investigation says there were two perpetrators present has not been addressed.
As for Lily, Lindsay’s pitbull, she is now living with Lindsay’s younger sister, and is a very happy and special dog.
“It was a nice surprise to find out that Lindsay taught Lily to ride a skateboard,” Carrie wrote for Street Sheet. “One day Lily just hopped on a skateboard and took off!”
It’s happy images like these — with memories of Lindsay drinking her beloved strawberry smoothies, crunching down into avocado toast, and cuddling next to a fire pit, that keep the McCollum family going.
Ahead of the six year anniversary, the police increased the reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the culprit to $100,000.
Carrie McCollum is still looking for answers, and wants the justice that her daughter and Eddie deserve. She says the investigation just “isn’t moving forward” and is hoping the public can help generate new leads.
“This person is going to the beach, which my daughter can’t; maybe driving a car, which my daughter can’t,” she told Mission Local. “I don’t want them to die. Just to go to jail for the rest of their lives.”