Man hunted after fatal shooting of four police officers

A man suspected of shooting to death four police officers in a coffee shop was not found yesterday in the Seattle home where he was thought to have been holed up overnight. He is likely to be wounded after the bloody encounter.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman, Ed Troyer, said they did not know where Maurice Clemmons was, but it is possible that he could still be in the neighbourhood. Mr Troyer said people who know Clemmons told investigators he had been shot in the torso. "If he didn't get a ride out of there, he could still be in the area," he said.

Warrants for first-degree murder have been issued against Clemmons, 37, who is accused of gunning down four officers from the suburb of Lakewood on Sunday morning as they were working in a coffee house.

Police surrounded the house where Clemmons was thought to be hiding late on Sunday. Before heavily armed police officers determined shortly before dawn that Clemmons was not there, negotiators spent hours trying to communicate with him, using loudspeakers, explosions and even a robot. At one point, gunshots rang through the neighbourhood.

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

It is alleged that Clemmons killed Sergeant Mark Renninger, 39, and officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42, as they worked on their laptop computers at the start of their shifts.

Clemmons is believed to have been in the area of the coffee shop around the time of the shooting, but Mr Troyer declined to say what evidence might link him to the shooting. Investigators said they know of no reason for him to murder the officers, but court documents indicate that Clemmons is delusional and mentally unstable.

"We're going to be surprised if there is a motive worth mentioning," added Mr Troyer.

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