UPDATE: Seattle Police Kill Cop-Shooting Suspect

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From the Associated Press:

SEATTLE — The man suspected of gunning down four police officers in a suburban coffee shop was shot and killed by Seattle police early Tuesday, a sheriff’s spokesman said. Three other people were arrested for allegedly helping him elude authorities during a massive two-day manhunt.

Maurice Clemmons was shot to death in a working-class south Seattle neighborhood after police tracked him down using possible hiding spots supplied by Pierce County investigators, said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the county sheriff. Troyer told Fox News a single officer found Clemmons and shot and killed him. A couple dozen police officers milled around at the scene where Clemmons was apparently shot, shaking hands and patting each other on the back.

Authorities say Clemmons, 37, singled out the Lakewood officers and spared employees and other customers at a coffee shop Sunday morning in Parkland, a Tacoma suburb about 35 miles south of Seattle. He then fled, but not before he was apparently shot in the torso by one of the dying officers.

On Monday, officers detained a sister of Clemmons who they think treated the suspect’s gunshot wound.

“We believe she drove him up to Seattle and bandaged him up,” Troyer said.

Troyer didn’t immediately give the names of the three people arrested on suspicion of rendering criminal assistance. Police said a network of friends and family gave Clemmons place to stay, medical aid, rides and money while he was on the run.

Police said they aren’t sure what prompted Clemmons to shoot the officers. Clemmons was described as increasingly erratic in the past few months and had been arrested earlier this year on charges that he punched a sheriff’s deputy in the face.

Troyer told the Tacoma News-Tribune that Clemmons indicated the night before the shooting “that he was going to shoot police and watch the news.”

Killed were Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42.

Police surrounded a house in a Seattle neighborhood late Sunday following a tip Clemmons had been dropped off there. After an all-night siege, a SWAT team entered the home and found it empty. But police said Clemmons had been there.

Police frantically chased leads on Monday, searching multiple spots in the Seattle and Tacoma area and at one point cordoning off a park where people thought they saw Clemmons.

Authorities found a handgun carried by the killer, along with a pickup truck belonging to the suspect with blood stains inside. They posted a $125,000 reward for information leading to Clemmons’ arrest and alerted hospitals to be on the lookout for a man seeking treatment for gunshot wounds.

“We need to get him into custody and we need to end this,” Troyer said Monday night.

Authorities in two states were criticized amid revelations that Clemmons was allowed to walk the streets despite a teenage crime spree in Arkansas that landed him an 108-year prison sentence. He was released early after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee commuted his sentence.

Huckabee cited Clemmons’ youth in granting the request. But Clemmons quickly reverted to his criminal past, violated his parole and was returned to prison. He was released again in 2004.

“This guy should have never been on the street,” said Brian D. Wurts, president of the police union in Lakewood. “Our elected officials need to find out why these people are out.”

Huckabee said on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday night that Clemmons was allowed back on the street because prosecutors failed to file paperwork in time.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley, whose office opposed Clemmons’ parole in 2000 and 2004, said Huckabee’s comments were “red herrings.”

“My word to Mr. Huckabee is man up and own what you did,” Jegley said.

Clemmons was charged in Washington state earlier this year with assaulting a police officer and raping a child, and investigators in the sex case said he was motivated by visions that he was Jesus Christ and that the world was on the verge of the apocalypse.

But he was released from jail after posting bail with the assistance of Jail Sucks Bail Bonds.

Documents related to those charges indicate a volatile personality. In one instance, he is accused of gathering his wife and young relatives and forcing them to undress.

“The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus,” a Pierce County sheriff’s report said.

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[3:05 p.m. - 11/30/2009] – Suspect In Wa. Police Killings Remains At Large In Seattle

From the Associated Press:

SEATTLE — A heavily armed SWAT team stormed a Seattle home Monday where they thought they had cornered the suspect in the slaying of four police officers at a coffee shop, only to find out that he was not in the house and still on the loose.

The discovery added new urgency to the manhunt for Maurice Clemmons as police canvassed the neighborhood with search dogs and hundreds of officers were deployed around Seattle for any sign of the suspect. Authorities put up a $125,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

Police had been positioned overnight at a Seattle home where they thought Clemmons was holed up and spent hours trying to communicate with him, using loudspeakers, explosions and even a robot sent into the house. But when the SWAT team went inside, he was nowhere to be found.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the location of Clemmons was not known, and it’s possible he still could be in the neighborhood. Troyer also said people who know Clemmons told investigators he had been shot in the torso in his bloody struggle with the officers.

“If he didn’t get a ride out of there, he could still be in the area,” Troyer said.

Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said there was evidence Clemmons at one point was on the property, but officers could not determine whether he was in the house itself. Kappel would not describe what the evidence was, but said it was a “good tip” that led them to the home.

Meanwhile, University of Washington officials alerted students by e-mail and text messages to an unconfirmed report that Clemmons might have gotten off a bus on or near the campus about 3 miles north of the residence, university police Cmdr. Jerome Solomon said. Police were checking the area, he said.

At one point, what sounded like gunshots rang through the neighborhood, but Kappel said no shots were fired.

Troyer said warrants for first-degree murder have been issued against Clemmons in the killings of the officers from the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood who were gunned down in a coffee shop on Sunday morning at the start of their shifts.

Clemmons has a long criminal history, including a long prison sentence commuted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee nearly a decade ago, and a recent arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer in Washington.

Authorities allege he killed Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42, as they worked on their laptop computers at the beginning of their shifts.

Clemmons is believed to have been in the area of the coffee shop around the time of the shooting, but Troyer declined to say what evidence might link him to the shooting.

Investigators say they know of no reason for gunning down the officers, but court documents indicate Clemmons is delusional and mentally unstable.

“We’re going to be surprised if there is a motive worth mentioning,” said Troyer, who sketched out a scene of controlled and deliberate carnage that spared the employees and other customers at the coffee shop in suburban Parkland, about 35 miles south of Seattle.

“He was very versed with the weapon,” Troyer said. “This wasn’t something where the windows were shot up and there bullets sprayed around the place. The bullets hit their targets.”

Officer Richards’ sister-in-law, Melanie Burwell, called the shooting “senseless.”

“He didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” she said. “If there were more people in the world like Greg, things like this wouldn’t happen.

Clemmons has an extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas. He was also recently charged in Washington state with assaulting a police officer, and second-degree rape of a child. Using a bail bondsman, he posted $150,000 — only $15,000 of his own money — and was released from jail last week.

Documents related to the pending charges in Washington state indicate a volatile personality. In one instance, he is accused of punching a sheriff’s deputy in the face, The Seattle Times reported. In another, he is accused of gathering his wife and young relatives and forcing them to undress, according to a Pierce County sheriff’s report.

“The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus,” the report said.

Troyer said investigators believe two of the officers were killed while sitting in the shop, and a third was shot dead after standing up. The fourth apparently “gave up a good fight.”

“We believe there was a struggle, a commotion, a fight … that he fought the guy all the way out the door,” Troyer said.

In 1989, Clemmons, then 17, was convicted in Little Rock for aggravated robbery. He was paroled in 2000 after Huckabee commuted a 95-year prison sentence.

Huckabee, who was criticized during his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 for granting many clemencies and commutations, cited Clemmons’ youth. Clemmons later violated his parole, was returned to prison and released in 2004.

On Sunday, Huckabee issued this statement on his Web site: “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.”

It was the second deadly ambush of police in the Seattle area in recent weeks, but the two cases aren’t related.

Authorities say a man killed a Seattle police officer on Halloween night and also firebombed four police vehicles in October as part of a “one-man war” against law enforcement. Christopher Monfort, 41, was arrested after being wounded in a firefight with police days after the Seattle shooting.

The officers killed Sunday had received no threats, Troyer said.

“We won’t know if it’s a copycat effect or what it was until we get the case solved,” he said.

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[8:00 a.m. - 11/30/2009] – Suspect In Wa. Police Killings Wounded, Possibly Dead

From the Associated Press:

SEATTLE — A suspect in the slaying of four police officers who were gunned down in a suburban coffee shop was surrounded by police at a Seattle house early Monday, wounded and possibly dead, police said.

Negotiators were trying to communicate with Maurice Clemmons, 37, using loudspeakers, explosions and even a robot to try to prod him from hiding. At one point, gunshots rang through the neighborhood, about 30 miles from the original crime scene.

“We have determined that in fact he has been shot,” said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff. “He may be deceased from his gunshot wound.”

Clemmons, who has a long criminal history — including a long prison sentence commuted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee nearly a decade ago — became the prime target Sunday in the search for the killer of Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42.

Authorities had speculated early Sunday that the gunman might have been wounded at the coffee shop by one of his victims. Troyer said interviews with others detained in the investigation confirmed that theory.

Police surrounded the house late Sunday, and a negotiator used a loudspeaker early Monday to call him out by name, saying: “Mr. Clemmons, I’d like to get you out of there safely. I can tell you this, we are not going away.”

Any response from inside the house was inaudible from the vantage of a photographer for The Associated Press. But shortly thereafter, police began using sirens outside the house, and there were several loud bangs before the negotiator resumed speaking, saying: “This is one of the toughest decisions you’ll make in your life, but you need to man up.”

By 3 a.m. Pacific time, the loudspeakers and explosions had fallen silent. Seattle Police spokesman Jeff Kappel said Clemmons has never responded.

Clemmons is believed to have been in the area of the coffee shop around the time of the shooting, but Troyer declined to say what evidence might link him to the shooting.

Investigators say they know of no reason that Clemmons or anyone else might have had to open fire on the four as they sat working on their laptops early Sunday morning, catching up on paperwork at the beginning of their shifts.

“We’re going to be surprised if there is a motive worth mentioning,” said Troyer, who sketched out a scene of controlled and deliberate carnage that spared the employees and other customers at the coffee shop in suburban Parkland, about 35 miles south of Seattle.

“He was very versed with the weapon,” Troyer said. “This wasn’t something where the windows were shot up and there bullets sprayed around the place. The bullets hit their targets.”

Officer Richards’ sister-in-law, Melanie Burwell, called the shooting “senseless.”

“He didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” she said. “If there were more people in the world like Greg, things like this wouldn’t happen.

Clemmons has an extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas. He was also recently charged in Washington state with assaulting a police officer, and second-degree rape of a child. Using a bail bondsman, he posted $150,000 — only $15,000 of his own money — and was released from jail last week.

Documents related to the pending charges in Washington state indicate an unstable and volatile personality. In one instance, he is accused of punching a sheriff’s deputy in the face, The Seattle Times reported. In another, he is accused of gathering his wife and young relatives and forcing them to undress, according to a Pierce County sheriff’s report.

“The whole time Clemmons kept saying things like trust him, the world is going to end soon, and that he was Jesus,” the report said.

Troyer said investigators believe two of the officers were killed while sitting in the shop, and a third was shot dead after standing up. The fourth apparently “gave up a good fight.”

“We believe there was a struggle, a commotion, a fight … that he fought the guy all the way out the door,” Troyer said.

In 1989, Clemmons, then 17, was convicted in Little Rock for aggravated robbery. He was paroled in 2000 after Huckabee commuted a 95-year prison sentence.

Huckabee, who was criticized during his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 for granting many clemencies and commutations, cited Clemmons’ youth. Clemmons later violated his parole, was returned to prison and released in 2004.

On Sunday, Huckabee issued this statement on his Web site: “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.”

There was no indication of any connection between Sunday’s killings and the Halloween night shooting of a Seattle police officer.

Authorities say the man charged with that shooting also firebombed four police vehicles in October as part of a “one-man war” against law enforcement. Christopher Monfort, 41, was arrested after being wounded in a firefight with police days after the Seattle shooting.

The officers killed Sunday had received no threats, sheriff’s officials said.

“We won’t know if it’s a copycat effect or what it was until we get the case solved,” Troyer said.

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[2:52 p.m. - 11/29/2009] – Gunman Fatally Shoots 4 Police Officers In Washington

From MSNBC:

PARKLAND, Wash. – A gunman walked into a coffee shop and shot and killed four police officers Sunday morning in what sheriff’s officials described as an “execution.”

The officers were sitting in the cafe at a strip mall near the Tacoma suburb of Parkland with their laptop computers, preparing for their day shifts, when a man came in and opened fire, Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The officers were obviously targeted because they were in full uniform and no one else was shot at, Troyer said.

“This was more of an execution. He walked in with the mind of shooting police officers,” Troyer said.

It wasn’t immediately known if any of the officers were able to return fire. They were declared dead at the scene.

Troyer said two employees and a few customers were in the Forza Coffee shop at the time but no one else was hurt. “As you can imagine they are all traumatized,” Troyer said.

Authorities scoured the area for the gunman, who is believed to have fled on foot or by car. The suspect was described as a “scruffy”-looking black man in his 20s or 30s, 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 10, wearing a black coat ands blue jeans.

“We are in the process of searching multiple locations,” Troyer said.

Nearby McChord Air Force Base was put on alert.

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