[Hayden’s Note: In case you don’t read this entire story – please at least read this; “Clemmons was given a 95-year prison sentence in Arkansas in 1989 for a host of charges, including robberies, burglaries, thefts and bringing a gun to school; recently charged with assaulting a peace officer, and rape of a child. His sentence was commuted in 2000 by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.” ….4 police officers killed by a low-life POS that should have been rotting behind bars but was pardoned after only ELEVEN years of his 95 year sentence. Huckabee did the EXACT same thing for another convicted rapist who later raped and murdered a young woman after being pardoned. Huckabee should face partial liability, at least in civil court. He made a decision – TWO decisions – that went against what a jury and a judge deemed appropriate, and now 5 people have been murdered, 2 raped and countless others effected. Huckabee should stand trial WITH Clemmons, the accused killer.]
Seattle, Washington (CNN) — A manhunt was under way Monday for a suspect in the shooting deaths of four police officers after he apparently eluded authorities in an east Seattle neighborhood.
Following a standoff that stretched to nearly 12 hours, Maurice Clemmons was not found in the home in the Leschi neighborhood, Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel told reporters. There is evidence that Clemmons was outside the home Sunday night, but apparently fled the area, he said.
Clemmons is sought in connection with what police called an “ambush” Sunday morning at a coffee shop near Tacoma in Pierce County. Four Lakewood police officers — three men and a woman — were shot to death.
Authorities identified the victims as Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Officer Ronald Owens, 37; Officer Tina Griswold, 40; and Officer Greg Richards, 42. All four had been with the department since its inception, and all of them were parents.
Authorities were summoned to the Leschi area about 8:45 p.m. Sunday after a tip that Clemmons was dropped off in the area, Kappel said. Police surrounded the home, blocked off the streets, and asked residents to lock their doors and stay inside. Paramedics were on standby to treat Clemmons, because witnesses to the shooting told police he was shot in the leg during the incident.
Police searched homes in the Leschi neighborhood, and believed Clemmons was holed up in the final residence they got to, Kappel said. Numerous attempts to raise him using a bullhorn and various noise devices were unsuccessful.
A robot was deployed to survey and scan, and a partial entry was made into the house with no response, he said. A SWAT team moved in and cleared the residence, but Clemmons was not found, Kappel said.
About an hour later, an alert was sent to students at the University of Washington, telling them to be alert, as the suspect could be in the university area and police were responding there, said university spokesman Robert Roseth. The university is located in east Seattle.
Early Monday, authorities started identifying Clemmons as a suspect, rather than as someone wanted for questioning.
Police were not looking for anyone else, but had arrested several people who had “helped” Clemmons, said Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer.
The night before the shootings, Clemmons had threatened to kill police officers, but witnesses did not report those threats till after the slayings, Troyer told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Clemmons, 37, is a convicted criminal with a long rap sheet.
He was recently charged in Pierce County in an assault on a police officer and rape of a child, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department.
Clemmons was given a 95-year prison sentence in Arkansas in 1989 for a host of charges, including robberies, burglaries, thefts and bringing a gun to school.
His sentence was commuted in 2000 by then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, said Troyer.
Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate in 2008, is considering a run for president in 2012.
“Should [Clemmons] be found responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state,” Huckabee’s office said in a statement Sunday night.
– [Hayden’s Note: Um, pardon me, Mr. Huckabee – but if Clemmons is found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it is not result of a failed criminal justice system! The system obviously worked when he was given a 95 year sentence for his horrid crimes and YOU pardoned him after only 11 short years, allowing him to rape a child and murder four police officers! It is YOU who should be held accountable, not the ‘system’. ]
Clemmons also had faced recent charges in Pierce County, Washington, in the assault of police officer and rape of a child, authorities said. He had been released on $150,000 bond six days ago, according to online county court records.
Huckabee cited Clemmons’ young age — 17 at the time of his sentencing — when he announced his decision to commute the sentence, according to newspaper articles.
“It was not something I was pleased with at the time,” said Larry Jegley, who prosecuted Clemmons for aggravated robbery and other charges in Pulaski County, Arkansas. “I would be most distressed if this is the same guy.”
Huckabee’s office said Clemmons’ commutation was based on the recommendation of the parole board that determined that he met the conditions for early release.
“He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him,” the statement said.
CNN could not immediately confirm the account. But the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper reported that a year after his release, Clemmons was arrested for aggravated robbery and theft.
He was taken back to prison for parole violation. But, said the paper, he was not served with the arrest warrants for the robbery and theft charges until he left prison three years later, in 2004.
His attorney argued the charges should be dismissed because too much time had passed by then. Prosecutors dropped the charges.
Clemmons is thought to have moved to Washington that year, and for a while ran a pressure-washing and landscaping business. The license for the business expired last month, according to the secretary of state’s office, with which businesses have to register.
In recent months, Clemmons has displayed increasingly erratic behavior, the Seattle Times reported. In May, he punched a sheriff’s deputy in the face, the paper said.
In another incident, he had relatives undress, telling them families need to be “naked for at least five minutes on Sunday,” the newspaper said, citing a sheriff’s department incident report.
Clemmons also believed he was Jesus and could fly, a deputy wrote, based on conversations with family members.
After serving several months in jail on a pending charge of second-degree rape of a child, Clemmons was released on bond six days ago, according to the Seattle Times.
Sunday’s shooting was the first for the Lakewood police department, which was created five years ago for the town of nearly 60,000. Until then, the Pierce County sheriff’s office provided law enforcement services there.
Police Chief Bret Farrar told reporters Monday he has repeatedly been asked how the city’s officers are doing.
“This is how everybody’s doing,” Farrar said, gesturing to the police force standing behind him. “They’re here. They’re doing their jobs. They’re working hard. They’re dealing with their loss. … We’re here to carry on. This is what we do.”
The four slain officers “were good people,” Farrar said, fighting to maintain his composure. “They were great officers, and we will all miss them very much.”
The Lakewood Independent Police Guild is accepting donations for the officers’ families, said Brian Wurts, guild president and Lakewood police officer. Contributions have poured in from as far away as Switzerland, he said.
“I can’t believe he was out on the street,” Wurts said of the suspect. “You have 5 percent of the people out here committing 90 percent of the crime — not against just us, but against all of you. And we’ve got to hold these people accountable. We’ve got to keep them locked up. And if they want to rehabilitate them, you can rehabilitate them, but you rehabilitate them in prison, where they’re supposed to be. This guy should have never been on the street.”
The four officers were awaiting the start of their shift at a coffee shop that’s a popular hangout for law enforcement officers. They were in uniform and had marked patrol cars parked outside. The shop is in Parkland, an unincorporated community just south of Lakewood and about 10 miles from Tacoma.
The attack occurred without warning. The shooter walked past the officers to the counter as if to order coffee before he pulled the gun out of his coat and opened fire at 8:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office said.
Two of the officers were “executed” as they sat at a table, said Troyer, the sheriff’s spokesman. Another was shot when he stood up and the fourth was shot after struggling with the gunman all the way out the door, Troyer said.
Two baristas and other customers inside the shop were unharmed. “Just the law enforcement officers were targeted,” Troyer said, calling the shooting an ambush.
“There’s not going to be a big motive other than he was upset about being incarcerated and was going to go gunning after cops in general,” Troyer told reporters on Monday.
My worst nightmare has come true,” Tiffany Ryan, Griswold’s sister, told reporters. “I can’t tell you how painful it is to lose my sister.”
“If that man is watching this … I want him to know what he took from us. I won’t ever get to see her again. She won’t ever get to watch her children grow and her daughter get married and have children.”
Here is what Governor Huckabee had to say about his 1996 pardon of Wayne DuMond, a convicted serial rapist;
“That’s what is so heartbreaking about this. There are families who are truly, understandably and reasonably grief-stricken. And for people to now politicize these deaths and to try to make a political case out of it, rather than to simply understand that a system failed and that we ought to extend our grief and heartfelt sorrow to these families, I just regret that politics is reduced to that.”
Wow. Astonishing. The “system failed” twice regarding your ‘pardons’ of convicted rapists and sleazeballs. Mr. DuMond was convicted in 1984 of raping Ashley Stevens, 17, a Forrest City resident and a distant cousin of former Gov. Bill Clinton. He was sentenced to life plus 20 years but only served 12 years.
Huckabee, words can not describe what a low life political hack you truly are.
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