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article imageCitizens bring coffee, food for cops at scene of police killings Special

By Salim Jiwa     Nov 29, 2009 in Crime
Police are hunting an armed man after four Lakewood, Washington police officers were executed in cold blood as they were having morning coffee near Tacoma. There has been an outpouring of love by citizens who brought drinks and food for cops at the scene.
TACOMA, Washington – (UPDATE 6) Crowds of people brought coffee, food and offered their services to police working at the scene of the tragic murders of four Lakewood City police officers who were shot inside a cafe early Sunday morning.
Police said in a statement they appreciated the outpouring of grief and love and asked people to focus their attention to helping the families of the four officers - all of them parents.
The four police officers were named by Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar. At the same time, the president of the police guild called the shooter a "complete coward" and said he felt "numb" writing a message on the guild's site.
Chief Farrar said it had been a "very difficult notification process," telling family members that their loved ones who had just left home early Sunday would not be returning.
"All four of our slain officers had been with this department since it started five years ago. Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards were police veterans when they started and all have been outstanding professionals," he said.
"This is a very difficult time for our families and our officers. The families will have many challenges ahead of them and we ask that their privacy be respected. Please keep our families and Lakewood Police in your prayers."
Mark Renninger
Sergeant Mark Renninger, 39, had 13 years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a wife and three children.
Ronald Owens
Officer Ronald Owen, 37, had 12 years in law enforcement. He is survived by a former wife and a daughter.
Tina Griswold
Officer Tina Griswold, 40, had been with police for 14 years. She is survived by her husband and two children.
Greg Richards
Officer Greg Richards, 42, had eight years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by his wife and three children.
"Those interested in supporting the families of the slain officers are welcome to make a donation through the Lakewood Police Independent Guild (LPIG) Benevolent Fund at PO Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499.A violent convict with a record for assaulting police and child rape has been identified as a person of interest in the shooting deaths of four police officers from the city of Lakewood, south of Seattle," the chief said.
The four police officers from Lakewood were executed by a gunman while they were having coffee prior to the start of their shift, a spokesman for Pierce County Sheriff’s office said Sunday.
Detective Ed Troyer said the shooting occurred at 8:15 a.m at Forza’s Coffee shop located at 11401 Steele Street South in Parkland, south of Seattle.
Troyer said police have now identified a person of interest as a 33-year-old man with a record.
"The Pierce County Sheriff's Department has identified a person of interest in the November 29, 2009, murder of four Lakewood Police officers. The person of interest is Maurice Clemmons, a 37 year old black male from the Parkland area of Pierce County. Clemmons is 5'8" tall, 235 lbs., with black hair, brown eyes, and a mole on his left cheek," he said.
"Clemmons has extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas, including aggravated robbery and theft. He has also recently been arrested and charged in Pierce County for Assault 3rd on a Police Officer and for Rape of a Child,"
"Clemmons should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. If the public has any information on his whereabouts, call any tips to the Sheriff's Department tip line at 1-866-977-2362," he said.
A massive manhunt is now under way to nap Clemmons so he can be interviewed.
Police who arrived at the cafe were greeted by signs of a bloody massacre with four of their own cut down in cold blood.
“When deputies arrived, they found four Lakewood Police Officers shot and killed inside the coffee shop,” he said.
“Two baristas and a few customers were inside the coffee shop at the time of the shooting, they were not injured but all are in shock and traumatized. It appears the officers were targeted and ambushed by the suspect,” said Troyer.
The four police officers were all in uniform, and were all members of the Lakewood Police Department, Troyer said in a statement.
The shooting comes on the heels of the slaying of Seattle Police officer Tim Brenton. In the past 18 months, an unprecedented number of officers have been gunned down in Washington State. The funeral service for Brenton was attended by 200 RCMP officers from B.C. and other jurisdictions.
On Sunday, Vancouver Police spokesman Lindsey Houghton issued a statement on behalf of Chief jim Chu expressing grief over the tragedy.
"It is a tragic event that will have a profound effect on all of our officers," said Houghton.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, co-workers, and community that those officers worked in.
When we take our oath of office, swear to protect life and property, and put on our uniform at the start of every shift we accept that there are those in society that may not hold the same belief in the good of man and the right for society to be free of crimes such as murder," said Houghton.
" Nevertheless, when we hear of incidents such as these it weighs exceptionally heavy on our hearts but strengthens our resolve to do everything we can to ensure these incidents never happen again," he said.
Lakewood Mayor Douglas Richardson and City Manager Andrew Neiditz, issued a statement expressing their shock.
"Today we experienced our most tragic event in Lakewood's fourteen years as a city. We lost four of our finest in a shocking, heartbreaking, and senseless murder. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the families and colleagues of these innocent victims during this extraordinarily difficult time."
"The slain officers were all part of Lakewood's initial police department start-up five years ago. All transferred to Lakewood as commissioned law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions. Their dedication and selfless service contributed immensely toward the successful creation of the Lakewood Police Department. Today we have four fewer officers from our force of one hundred commissioned officers. They will be sorely missed. Support from other law enforcement agencies has been very responsive and deeply appreciated."
The shooting of the four officers is being handled by the Pierce Country Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from the Tacoma Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.
“There will be a large police presence in Pierce County throughout the day as large numbers of law enforcement follow up on leads and tips,” said police.
“The public in urged to stay away from any police activity, and to please call in any tips to the Sheriff’s Department tip line at 1-866-977-2362,” police announced.
A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for any information that leads to an arrest and charges filed in the murders.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the slain officers, as well as their colleagues in the Lakewood Police Department,” said Pierce County executive Pat McCarthy and city council chairman Roger Bush in a joint statement.
“We are grateful for all of the assistance we are receiving from law enforcement professionals throughout the region. Right now, our focus is on this critically important time in the investigation,” the pair of officials said.
Coincidentally, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor’s latest message on his website was the about the pain of police officer shootings. He wrote the message after attending the funeral of Seattle Police officer Tim Brenton.
“This past year and a half has seen an uncharacteristically large number of line of duty deaths among law enforcement officers in Washington State.
“We have lost four officers: Deputy Ann Jackson Skagit County: Officer Kristine Marie Fairbanks, United States Forest Service: Deputy Mike Gallagher, Lewis County: and, most recently Officer Timothy Brenton, Seattle Police Department.
“I write these words after returning from Officer Brenton’s funeral in Seattle. I have been to too many law enforcement funerals and they are always large and powerful and tremendously sad. There are grieving colleagues and family members. There is always an honor guard and the playing of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes and taps last of all with a final hand salute. It was the same for Officer Timothy Brenton,” Pastor wrote.
Brian D. Wurts, President Lakewood Police Independent Guild, described the shooter as a "complete coward" and added he felt numb while writing out his feeling on the Guild's website.
"This morning a complete coward and threat upon all of society took the lives of four of my Guild members and your sworn protectors in a cold blooded assassination. As I write this I am numb. We were dealt a nasty blow, good men and women I have had the honor of knowing for years are senselessly gone. There is no way to comprehend it, to validate it, or to make sense of any of it. You cannot understand evil like this, as a community we must form a solid bond against criminals and hold them accountable. I know my members and can say with certainty that as a group we will remain professional and will continue to work to protect those of you we have taken an oath to protect. If you know a cop tell them how much you appreciate them, it truly keeps us going.
Please pray for these officers and their families. All of them had significant others and children who are left behind. As a Guild we will do anything we can. If you want to donate to the families our Guild has a benevolent account. Every penny will go to the families; if you want to donate to a specific officer you can write his or her name in the memo section. If the check is made out to LPIG at PO Box 99579 Lakewood, WA 98499. I will personally make sure it goes where it is intended. May God bless you four who are in a place so much better than this; you are some of the finest professionals I have ever known. God bless our community today."
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