4 Lakewood Officers Slain; Ex-Con Sought for Questioning

Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times, November 29, 2009

A 37-year-old Tacoma man, Maurice Clemmons, is being sought for questioning in the execution-style shooting of four Lakewood police officers this morning, according to law-enforcement officials.

Clemmons was identified as a person of interest in the slayings, but not as a suspect.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Clemmons had been seen in the area of the shootings at the time they occurred.

Clemmons, who was recently released from jail, has an extensive criminal record in Pierce County and Arkansas, court records show. He currently faces eight criminal charges in Washington state.

The four officers were killed at about 8:15 a.m. by a scruffy-looking man who walked into a coffee shop and opened fire. The officers–three men and one woman–were found dead by deputies who arrived at Forza Coffee at 11401 Steele St. S., Troyer said.

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Troyer said the investigation into the shootings indicate that the gunman “flat-out executed” two of the officers. One officer then stood up, tried to go for the gunman and was shot, Troyer said.

The fourth officer was involved in some kind of struggle with the gunman.

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Before that fourth officer was killed, Troyer said, he apparently managed to fire at the shooter.

Troyer said if the gunman was shot, he could be traveling some distance to get care. Troyer suggested the man may try to visit a medical facility and claim he had suffered an accidental gunshot wound.

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The officers were in uniform, including bulletproof vests, and were working on their laptop computers as they prepared to start their day shifts, Troyer said.

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The gunman was described as a black man in his 20s or 30s, between 5-feet-7 inches and 5-feet-10-inches, and ran north on Steele Street South after the shooting. He was wearing a black coat over a gray hooded sweat shirt and bluejeans, Troyer said.

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killed cops

The four slain Lakewood officers: Mark Renninger, Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards.


Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee started Sunday morning by dialing back expectations about his political future, but by evening, it was his past that was at issue when the Seattle Times broke news that the suspect in the slaying of four police officers in a Seattle suburb was a former Arkansas resident who had had his sentence commuted by Huckabee and who was wanted on an outstanding Arkansas warrant.

In response to the revelations, Huckabee released a statement seeking to cast some of the responsibility onto the parole board that freed the man, 37-year-old Maurice Clemmons, and the criminal justice system that repeatedly failed to properly handle the convicted felon. Said Huckabee:

“The senseless and savage execution of police officers in Washington State has saddened the nation, and early reports indicate that a person of interest is a repeat offender who once lived in Arkansas and was wanted on outstanding warrants here and Washington State. The murder of any individual is profound tragedy, but the murder of a police officer is the worst of all murders in that it is an assault on every citizen and the laws we live within.

“Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State. He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, making him parole eligible and was paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state. This is a horrible and tragic event and if found and convicted the offender should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers are and should be with the families of those honorable, brave, and heroic police officers.”

The revelation marks the second time Huckabee’s clemency decisions have become an issue. {snip}

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