Police kill coffee shop massacre suspect
Tuesday 01 December 2009
Police today shot and killed a man suspected of gunning down four police officers, a sheriff's spokesman said, a day after the man eluded police who had spent hours trying to coax him out of a house.
Maurice Clemmons was killed in a working-class Seattle neighbourhood after police tracked him down using possible hiding spots supplied by Pierce County investigators, said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the county sheriff.
Police had surrounded a house in Seattle late Sunday following a tip Clemmons had been dropped off there. After an all-night siege, a special weapons and tactics police team entered the home on Monday morning and found it empty. But police said Clemmons had been there.
Authorities suspect Clemmons, 37, of killing the four Lakewood officers at a coffee shop Sunday morning in Parkland, a Tacoma suburb about 35 miles south of Seattle.
Police said they aren't sure what prompted Clemmons to shoot the officers as they did paperwork on their laptops at a coffee shop. Clemmons was described as increasingly erratic in the past few months and had been arrested earlier this year on charges that he punched a sheriff's deputy in the face.
At the scene, a couple of dozen police officers milled around, shaking hands and patting each other on the back after one of the largest manhunts in the region's history.
Clemmons had stayed on the run for nearly two days with help from a network of friends and family who gave him places to stay, medical aid, rides and money, police said. Troyer told Fox News police arrested three people overnight on suspicion of rendering criminal assistance.
On Monday, officers detained a sister of Clemmons who they think treated the suspect's gunshot wound.
"We believe she drove him up to Seattle and bandaged him up," Troyer said.
Police believe people close to Clemmons have misled officers, and Troyer said anyone helping him could face charges. Clemmons' sister wasn't in custody late Monday, and her name wasn't released.
Authorities said the gunman singled out the officers in the coffee shop and spared employees and other customers. He then fled, but not before he was apparently shot in the torso by one of the dying officers.
Killed were Sergeant Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42.
Troyer told the Tacoma News-Tribune that Clemmons indicated the night before the shooting "that he was going to shoot police and watch the news."
Police frantically chased leads on Monday, searching multiple spots in the Seattle and Tacoma area and at one point cordoning off a park where people thought they saw Clemmons.
Authorities found a handgun carried by the killer, along with a pickup truck belonging to the suspect with blood stains inside. They posted a $125,000 reward for information leading to Clemmons' arrest and alerted hospitals to be on the lookout for a man seeking treatment for gunshot wounds.
Authorities in two states were criticized amid revelations that Clemmons was allowed to walk the streets despite a teenage crime spree in Arkansas that landed him an 108-year prison sentence. He was released early after the governor commuted his sentence.
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