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Slain Lakewood Police Officers Were Four of City's BestTim King Salem-News.com
Photos of the fallen officers are released by the city of Lakewood.
(LAKEWOOD, Wash.) - The community of Lakewood, Washington is in shock today over the Murder of four city police officers in this Tacoma suburb. Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards all joined the police agency when it initially began full operations on November 1, 2004.
This morning they were drinking coffee and planning their day at Forza's Coffee shop on Steele Street South in Parkland, working on their laptops, when the gunman entered the building and shot them all dead. The suspect did not harm others in the coffee shop.
Lakewood's Police Chief, Bret Farrar 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."
In a statement, Lakewood's Mayor Douglas Richardson and City Manager Andrew Neiditz, called it the 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 city officials said 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."
Reports indicate that two of the officers were shot execution style. Another officer was also shot, but the fourth officer apparently was involved in a deadly struggle with the suspect before being fatally shot near the door. Witnesses believe the suspect was also shot.
Person of Interest
Police have identified a person of interest, and are on the lookout for 37-year old Maurice Clemmons, a black male from the Parkland area of Pierce County.
Detectives haven't elaborated on why they believe Clemmons is related to the shooting; he is reported to have, "an extensive violent criminal history" in the state of Arkansas.
Past convictions of Clemmons mentioned by authorities include aggravated robbery and theft, but no references to Homicide or Murder. Pierce County officials say however, that he is currently out on $150k bail for third-degree Assault on a Police Officer, and for a Rape case involving a child.
One interesting and potentially tragic aspect, is that Clemmons wouldn't be a suspect at all if he hadn't been granted clemency in Arkansas by former Governor Mike Huckabee.
It was reported by The Seattle Times, that this suspect in the shooting of four police officers in Washington State, was kicked loose from jail in Arkansas nine years ago by then-Governor Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee reportedly pardoned Clemens because he was seventeen-years old when he committed his original crimes.
Many recall that Huckabee suggested parole for a convicted rapist named Wayne DuMond, who he believed at the time, had been "railroaded" by Huckabee's predecessor, under Bill Clinton. The victim, a seventeen-year old girl, was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton, who was the Governor of Arkansas when the crime took place, in 1985.
The problem with Huckabee's efforts to see the man paroled, was that the rapist, Wayne DuMond, raped and murdered a woman after he was released.
When police officers die in the line of duty, they seldom perish in numbers. This did happen in March 2009, when four police officers in California were killed (see: Three Oakland, California Police Officers Killed in the Line of Duty)
We have written about the deaths of four officers during a single incident in California in 1970. The "Newhall Incident" is examined today in police training and had an impact on police procedures all over the nation. (see: Retired Newhall CHP Officer to Speak on 1970 Police Tragedy)
A shock ripped through Oregon's law enforcement community just less than one year ago, when a bomb killed two senior Oregon officers and critically injured a third. (Two Officers Killed by Bomb at Bank in Oregon)
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. Please visit their website for more information visit lpig.us.
Since the crime occurred just outside of Lakewood city limits, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction. Those with information on the crime should call 866-977-2362.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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