Four Wash. police officers shot dead at coffee shop

0

TACOMA, Wash. — Four local police officers were killed Sunday
morning at a Parkland, Wash.-area coffee shop, and dozens of investigators
backed by search dogs and a helicopter were hunting for their killer.

Witnesses described the killer as a black man, 5-foot-8 to
5-foot-9, in his 20s or 30s, with scruffy facial hair and wearing a black coat
and blue jeans.

He walked into the Forza coffee shop at about 8:15 a.m. and
opened fire on the four officers, who were at a table doing pre-shift
paperwork.

The man then fled southbound on foot.

The officers — three men and one woman — all worked for the
Lakewood (Wash.) Police Department. All were in uniform. Their families have
been notified, Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

They are the first Lakewood officers killed in the line of
duty since the department was formed in 2004. The slain officers were wearing
bulletproof vests.

“This was an execution, no doubt,” Troyer said.
“This was a targeted attack.”

The Sheriff’s Department will be the lead investigating
agency on the homicides.

Sheriff Paul Pastor addressed the assembled news media at
the scene about 12:20 p.m. Sunday.

Pastor said law enforcement was working as “rapidly as
possible” to catch the gunman.

“This is an example of the danger police officers,
deputy sheriff’s and state troopers face every day,” Pastor said.
“We’ve lost people that we care about.”

The gunman not only “harmed us, they harmed the good we
can do in the community,” the sheriff said.

Investigators don’t know what kind of weapon was used or how
many shots were fired. It’s not known whether any of the officers were able to
fire back, Troyer said.

Troyer said if anyone sees police activity, to stay away.

Rebecca Radcliffe, manager of a nearby Subway Shop, said
four officers would often come in on Sunday and stay two to three hours. She
didn’t know them personally.

The officers would talk to Radcliffe about Lakewood and the
apartment complex where she lived.

“Nothing like this has happened like this before,”
she said. “It’s still a little scary to know that people out there are like
this.”

Next to the Subway is a Extra Mile convenience store where
Samuel Munson works Saturdays and Sundays. He said a couple of Lakewood
officers are regulars at the store. He doesn’t know them personally.

Law enforcements from all over the region have responded to
the scene, and crime-scene technicians were inside the store about noon
gathering evidence. Search-and-rescue crews also were called in, presumably to
look for evidence.

The Sheriff’s Department is in the process of notifying next
of kin and coworkers.

“We are having a lot of colleagues wake up to this
news,” Troyer said.

The gunman opened fire with a handgun. The baristas and two
customers inside were not injured.

Police are possibly looking for another person and are
searching multiple places, including residences and parking lot, Troyer said at
a news briefing.

There is no information on the motive for the deadly
killing. There was no preexisting threat against the officers.

As of right now, there is no link to the Oct. 31 slaying of
Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton, who was gunned down as he and a
colleague sat in a patrol car in Seattle. Police have arrested a man in
connection with that case.

The Sheriff’s Department has set up a special tips line:
1-866-977-2362. Tipsters also can call Crime Stoppers at 253-591-5959. There is
a $10,000 reward.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said he’s following
the developments in the slaying of the four officers.

“Our hearts go out to the families,” he said.
“One of our main concerns right now is we still have some crazy
coldblooded killer or killers on the loose.”Witness accounts from the four
officers killed this morning in a coffee shop.

{::PAGEBREAK::}

The coffee shop is located near an industrial park area and
a Coca Cola distribution plants. It borders McChord Air Force Base.

Mike Bostwick drove the coffee shop this morning as just as
a couple of police cars were arriving moments after the shooting.

“I saw three vehicles pulling into Forza right off the
bat,” he said.

“I was trying to say out of the way.”

Bostwick said the officers have been working on gang issues
in the area.

“I feel safe again,” he said. “I think the
response is wonderful.”

Jim Waldeck said he was on his way to Ralph’s Tavern for a
cup of coffee like every day. He drove by the coffee shop and saw two Lakewood
cars out front.

“That’s not unusual,” Waldeck said. “It’s
pretty scary.”

At Rollies Tavern nearby, the plasma TVs usually tuned to
football had Northwest Cable News on.

Three bar patrons live next door to the Forza.

Jerry Arnold, 45, was in bed when he was awakened by sirens.
He’s lived there seven years and never seen anything close to Sunday’s scene.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
“It’s always been a nice area to live.

“I hope they get them. I can’t sleep until they do.
Those guys could be hiding in my backyard.”

Drew Ruttin, 29, says the area is relatively low-crime:
“it’s a busy enough thoroughfare that it stays safe. But this is just
crazy.”

David Gabrielson, 27, lives in the Willow Park Apartments
across the street. He’s a cashier at the nearby 76 station.

He got into work at 8. At 8:30 to 8:45 a.m., the cops
started going crazy. “Tons of cars blaring their sirens,” he said.
“This neighborhood’s not that bad. At least I used to think so.”

Initial research suggests the shooting of four police
officers in Lakewood ranks as the worst attack on law enforcement in state
history.

Nationally, the worst incident involving law enforcement
casualties is the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Reports from that incident say 60
police officers were killed, though the circumstances differ. Officers and
other emergency workers responding to the attacks died in the course of rescue
attempts as opposed to direct confrontations with assailants.

In March of this year, four Oakland, Calif., police officers
were fatally shot — the worst casualty count in that state since 1970, when
four highway patrolmen were killed.

Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Previous articleCastor oil is a comfy alternative to pain meds
Next articleSmoking rate rises slightly from a year ago