On November 29, 2009, four Police Officers from the Lakewood, Washington Police Department were brutally gunned down while sitting in a coffee shop in Parkland Washington.
The officers had just finished a call and were in the coffee shop to complete paperwork. Sergeant Mark Rinninger and Officers Ronald Owens and Tina DeLong-Griswald were sitting at a table while Officer Greg Richards was on line at the counter. A 38 year old career criminal named Maurice Clemmons was driving by the coffee shop in a white pickup truck being operated by a friend, Dorcus Allen. Upon seeing the officers vehicles parked outside the coffee shop, Clemmons directed Allen to turn around. Clemmons walked in to the shop and immediately proceeded to the table where the officers were sitting. He drew a Glock 9mm pistol and unloaded on the officers. He struck Officer Delong-Griswald and Sgt Rinninger in the head, killing them instantly. His gun jammed and he pulled out a .38 caliber revolver and shot Officer Owens in the neck as he was standing to draw his weapon. Officer Richards, in line at the counter, was able to shoot Clemmons once in the stomach before being shot in the head and killed.
Clemmons ran from the restaurant and back to the waiting pickup truck being driven by Allen. They fled the scene, abandoned the truck, and separated. Clemmons was quickly identified and a tremendous manhunt was initiated. The murderer visited several relatives for shelter and medical care and was almost apprehended a few times, but police were always one step behind.
On December 1, Seattle Police Officer Benjamin Kelly was investigating a report of a stolen car. Kelly saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt walking down the street toward him. Kelly became suspicious when he saw that the man was not avoiding him, but coming right at him. Kelly jumped out of his patrol car and faced the man, who he immediately recognized as Clemmons. He shouted for Clemmons to show his hands, and Clemmons fumbled for a gun which was stuck in his pocket. Kelly fired seven shots, following as Clemmons tried to run away. Clemmons was found nearby, hit by four bullets. He died shortly afterward.
Clemmons had a lengthy criminal history dating back to his juvenile days. He had been sentenced to 108 years in jail for multiple violent felonies in Arkansas but that sentence was commuted after just 10 years in prison. He moved to Washington and soon re-offended several times including for a rape. He had just been bailed out on that case when he decided to go on his anti-police rampage. Jail calls listened to after the murders showed him to be severely mentally ill and determined to kill. He referred to himself as God and as cops as the devil. He plainly stated that he would kill as many police officers as he could.
The murdered Lakewood Officers never really had a chance against this determined madman. The deceased left behind a total of 9 children without a parent. Maurice Clemmons’ long history with the criminal justice and mental health systems is a testament to their mismanagement and incompetence. At multiple points decision makers were warned of the danger he posed to society but he was still released time and time again.