Suspect in Slaying of Tacoma Police Holed Up in Home


Lakewood, Washington—A man who has recently been named a suspect in the fatal shooting of four police offers on Sunday morning is hiding out in an East Seattle home. Police have blocked off several streets in the neighborhood and cautioned area residents to remain indoors.

Maurice Clemmons, a convicted criminal with an extensive record, is suspected in the “ambush,” which targeted four Lakewood Police Department officers as they sat in a coffee shop working on their laptops. The attack occurred without any warning as the shooter walked past the officers, approaching the counter as if to place an order. He then pulled a gun out of his coat and opened fire on the officers.

Two employees of the coffee shop, as well as its other patrons, were unharmed. The officers were in uniform, and their marked patrol cars were parked outside. A spokesman for the Pierce County sheriff’s department, Ed Troyer, said that only the law enforcement officials were targeted, and that the shooting was an “ambush.”

“What happened in there wasn’t just a shooting,” Troyer told reporters. The four officers were identified as Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Officer Tina Griswold, 40; Officer Ronald Owens, 37; and Officer Greg Richards, 42.

Clemmons had a long rap sheet, with convictions for aggravated robbery and theft. He had recently been charged in Pierce County with the assault of a police officer and the rape of a child. In 1989, he had been sentenced to 95 years in prison on a number of charges, including bringing a gun to school, robberies and burglaries. During a pretrial hearing, according to contemporary media reports, he took a padlock from a holding cell and attempted to throw it at a court bailiff, instead hitting his own mother.

After serving 11 years of his sentenced, Clemmons was paroled in August 2000 and his sentence was commuted by then-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate. The commutation was based, according to Huckabee’s office, on the recommendation of the parole board, who has agreed that Clemmons met the conditions for early release, and on the fact that Clemmons was only 17 at the time of his sentencing. Since his release, Clemmons has been in and out of jail. Most recently he was being held on the pending charge of second-degree rape of a child. He was released on bond just six days before Sunday’s shooting.

Family members told law enforcement that Clemmons had exhibited increasingly bizarre behavior in recent months, including expressing the belief that he was Jesus, and that he could fly. He also insisted that relatives undress in order to be “naked for at least five minutes on Sunday,” according to a sheriff’s department report.

Clemmons may have been hurt by a Lakewood officer returning fire, and investigators were checking local hospitals. Additionally, they have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.


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