In less than a month, the Puget Sound area where I live lost five law enforcement officers to ambush style slayings.
On Halloween, Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton sat in a patrol car with Officer Britt Sweeney. They were reviewing a traffic stop they had just conducted. Officer Brenton was a training officer and Officer Sweeney had recently graduated from the police academy. A car pulled alongside them and the driver opened fire, killing Officer Brenton and injuring Officer Sweeney. Officer Sweeney kept herself together enough to get out of the car, call for help, and return fire. At least one of her shots hit the fleeing vehicle. A week later, during Officer Brenton's memorial service, Christopher Monfort was shot and arrested by police after someone called in a tip about the car he had hidden under a tarp shortly after the shooting. Christopher Monfort is also suspected to be behind the firebombings of several Seattle Police cars about a week before Officer Brenton's slaying.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, four officers met in Lakewood, Washington. Lakewood is south of Tacoma, near McChord Air Force Base, which is where I hoped of being stationed while I was in training several years ago. In fact, the coffee shop where the four officers met to complete paperwork prior to the start of their shift is across the street from the base. A man walked into the coffee shop, acted like he was going to order, then suddenly turned and opened fire on the officers. Two were killed instantly. A third died as he tried to stand. A fourth struggled with the gunman all the way out the shop's door and opened fire, striking the gunman in the stomach, before dying of his wounds. The officers names are Mark Renninger, Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards. The suspected killer, Maurice Clemmons was shot and killed two days later during a confrontation with a Seattle Police Officer who was conducting a routine investigation on a stolen car he had just found. So far, six relatives or friends of Maurice Clemmons have been arrested and accused of helping him elude the massive manhunt for him.
The first shooting was bad enough, but I still cannot find words to describe the second. I am absolutely disgusted by the idea that several people helped the gunman elude capture. My community was still reeling from Officer Brenton's death when the Lakewood shooting occurred. My thoughts and prayers go out to the officers' families, friends, and fellow officers. I have seen fellow officers get hurt at work, and one died in a vehicle accident shortly after he returned from a deployment to Iraq. Those left me feeling less secure and safe, but I cannot even fathom what the loved ones and fellow officers of these five are going through right now. I can only hope that our community continues to support them.