Search continues for suspected Lakewood cop killer

Law enforcement officials continue to search for a man suspected of killing four Lakewood police officers in a Parkland coffee...

POSTED MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2009 — 8:40 A.M.

Law enforcement officials continue to search for a man suspected of killing four Lakewood police officers in a Parkland coffee shop Sunday morning, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer has announced a murder warrant was issued for Maurice Clemmons in connection with the shootings. Clemmons is charged with four counts of first-degree murder. This morning, a Seattle police SWAT team stormed a Leschi home believed to be where Clemmons was hiding, but did not find the suspect inside. There is a $125,000 reward for information leading to Clemmons’ capture. The reward money was put up by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations), ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and Crime Stoppers.

According to law enforcement officials, at 8:15 a.m. on Sun., Nov. 29, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call of shots fired at the Forza’s Coffee shop located at 11401 Steele St. S. in Parkland. When deputies arrived, they found four Lakewood police officers shot and killed inside the coffee shop. 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 Clemmons, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Clemmons, a 37 year old black male from the Parkland area of Pierce County, is 5’8″ tall, 235 lbs., with black hair, brown eyes, and a mole on his left cheek. At the time of the shootings, he was wearing a black jacket over a gray hooded sweatshirt, and blue jeans. According to Troyer, Clemmons was shot and perhaps seriously wounded by one of the slain officers Sunday morning.

The four police officers were all in uniform, and were all members of the Lakewood Police Department. They include:

I. Sergeant Mark Renninger, age 39 with 13 years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a wife and three children;

II. Officer Ronald Owen, age 37 with 12 years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a former wife and a daughter;

III. Officer Tina Griswold, age 40 with 14 years of law enforcement experience. She is survived by her husband and two children;

IV. Officer Greg Richards, age 42 with 8 years of law enforcement experience. He is survived by a wife and three children.

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.

“All four of our slain officers had been with this department since it started five years ago,” said Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar. “Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards were police veterans when they started and all have been outstanding professionals. 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.”

Lakewood Mayor Douglas Richardson and City Manager Andrew Neiditz issued the following statement: “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. 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.”

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and County Council Chairman Roger Bush issued the following joint statement: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the slain officers, as well as their colleagues in the Lakewood Police Department. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is the lead law enforcement agency in the investigation. In addition, the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management is assisting by operating its call center to take tips. We urge anyone with information to call the tipline at 1-866-977-2362. 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.”

“I am shocked and horrified at the murder of four police officers in Pierce County,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “Our police put their lives on the line every day, and tragedies like this remind us of the risks they continually take to keep our communities safe. My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of these officers, as well as the entire law enforcement community. I offer whatever support is needed to the Pierce County Sheriff in their search for the perpetrator of this terrible crime.”

The incident is being investigated by the Pierce County 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. The public in urged to call Sheriff’s Department tip line at 1-866-977-2362.

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 http://www.lpig.us for more information.

Updates on the investigation will be posted at http://columbia.co.pierce.wa.us/crisiscom/page5.htm .

UPDATE MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2009 — 1:54 P.M.

The Washington State Patrol issued the following statement:

The Washington State Patrol mourns the deaths of four City of Lakewood officers killed in what appears to be a planned ambush yesterday morning. While we honor the lives and sacrifice of all four officers, the death of Officer Ron Owens hits especially close to home. Owens was a former state trooper, having served our agency from 1997 until he left to join the Lakewood Police Department in 2004. Owens spent the bulk of his state patrol career in King and Pierce counties assigned to uniformed patrol. As a trooper-cadet, he spent about 15 months working as part of the patrol’s Commercial Vehicle Division at the Plymouth weigh station in eastern Washington. “While we have many ranks and honors that we offer for exemplary service, the most coveted honor is to simply be respected by your colleagues as ‘a good troop,'” said State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “Ron Owens was most definitely a good troop.”

UPDATE MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2009 — 9:49 A.M.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has directed that all flags in Pierce County be lowered to half-staff Mon., Nov. 30 until further notice in memory of four Lakewood police officers killed yesterday.

UPDATE MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2009 — 9:39 A.M.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist issued the following statement:

“The men and women of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office send our prayers and thoughts to the families of the murdered officers of the Lakewood Police Department and to their colleagues in law enforcement. This cowardly ambush reminds us that day after day police officers risk their lives for the community. I have complete confidence in Sheriff Paul Pastor and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, which is taking the lead in this multi-agency investigation. My office is assisting in every way possible to help bring the killer to justice.”

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