Four Officers Killed In "Ambush" In Pierce County

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee November 29, 2009

Four Lakewood Police Department officers were shot to death inside the Forza coffee shop in Parkland—across the street from the McChord air force base—at about 8:00 a.m. this morning, and police are now looking for a felon pardoned by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in connection with the shooting. Pierce County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ed Troyer called the shooting a "flat out ambush."

According to Troyer, three male officers and one female officer were killed in the shooting. "We have no sense of motive," he says. The officers have been identified as Tina Griswold, Greg Richards, Ronald Owens, and Mark Renninger.

Troyer says police are now looking at felon 37-year-old Maurice Clemmons as a person of interest in the case. According to Troyer, Clemmons has "past run-ins" with law enforcement, including an assault on an officer. Clemmons faces charges for rape of a child and has a conviction for robbery in Arkansas. He was recently released from jail on $150,000 bail.

According to an article in the Arkansas Leader, Clemmons was pardoned by former Governor Mike Huckabee in 2000:

The following March, Clemmons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You'd think they'd keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.

Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.

All four officers were apparently sitting inside the coffee shop working on their laptops when a gunman walked past them to the front counter, pretended to order something, and opened his coat, revealing a handgun. A barista at the counter ran out the coffee shop's back door, and the man turned around and opened fire on officers. "Two of [the officers] were just flat executed," Troyer says. "One of them stood up and tried to go for the suspect and was shot." A fourth officer, Troyer says, struggled with the suspect, and fired off several rounds. "We have reason to believe there were shots fired by the Lakewood police officer," Troyer says. "We hope the suspect was shot That would tell us who it is."

Officers from multiple police agencies are now looking for a black man, 5'7 to 5'10, in his 20s or 30s, with scruffy facial hair with a medium build, wearing a black coat over a gray hoodie, and blue jeans. Troyer said the man fled the coffee shop on foot. Police say that if in fact the suspect was injured, he may seek medical care, and are asking hospital workers and the public to be alert for anyone matching the suspect's description who may have a gunshot wound, which they try to pass off as accidental. Police are asking anyone with information to call 253-591-5959 or 866-977-2362. There's currently a $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.

Today, officers scoured several locations near the site of the shooting, including a nearby storage facility, and took away a white pickup truck parked near the scene. Police took one man into custody earlier after he tried to turn himself in to the shooting, but Troyer says the man was "showing off for his girlfriend," and is not believed to be involved with the murders. He was arrested for obstruction.

Troyer also says the Sheriff's office is looking at filing charges against a King 5 helicopter pilot and the station's news director for interfering in the investigation.

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