Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Multiple-Fatality Tragedy: Four Officers Gunned Down in Lakewood, WA

In a year in which law enforcement fatalities are down overall, 2009 has been punctuated by intense bursts of violence against our nation's peace officers. The latest, particularly heinous incident occurred just after 8 am on Sunday in Washington state, when a gunman walked into a Pierce County coffee shop and open fired on four officers of the Lakewood Police Department who were going over plans for their upcoming shift. All four officers were killed in what area law enforcement officials are calling an execution. No other customers or employees in the coffee house at the time were injured.

On Sunday night, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar identified the four slain officers as Sergeant Mark Renninger, age 39, and Officers Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Greg Richards, 42. All four were veteran law enforcement officers, with between 8 and 14 years of experience each, and all four had been members of the Lakewood Police Department since it was founded five years ago in the community outside Tacoma. The officers were the first members of the relatively new police agency to be killed in the performance of duty. And Officer Griswold has the unfortunate distinction of being the first female officer in the United States to be killed this year.

Chief Farrar stated, "This is a very difficult time for our families and our officers. The families will have many challenges ahead of them and we ask that their privacy be respected. Please keep our families and Lakewood Police in your prayers.”

As of Sunday night, the Pierce County (WA) Sheriff's Department was looking for a "person of interest" in the case. He is identified as Maurice Clemmons, 37, a career criminal who was recently released from jail and has extensive criminal history in both Washington state and Arkansas.

Sunday's violent incident was the fourth multiple-fatality shooting of law enforcement officers this year. On March 21, four members of the Oakland (CA) Police Department were fatally shot following a traffic stop and subsequent search. Just two weeks later, on April 4, three Pittsburgh (PA) Police officers were gunned down by a heavily armed extremist wearing a bullet-resistant vest and lying in wait for the officers, who had been called by the gunman's mother for a domstic complaint. And three weeks after that, two Okaloosa County (FL) Sheriff's deputies were murdered while trying to arrest a man wanted in an earlier domestic incident.

The 13 officers shot and killed in these four incidents represent nearly 30 percent of the 44 officers who have been shot and killed so far this year, according to preliminary statistics from the NLEOMF. The preliminary data show that total law enforcement fatalities are down more than 7 percent this year, driven by a dramatic, 23 percent drop in traffic-related fatalities. However, firearms-related deaths are up 19 percent so far this year, and the 11-month total of 44 is already five more than occurred in all of 2008.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund extends our deepest sympathies to the families of the four officers killed today in Lakewood, WA, to Chief Farrar and all the members of the Lakewood Police Department, and to the citizens of Lakewood, who are coping with the loss of four of their dedicated protectors.

Follow continuing news coverage of the tragedy in Lakewood on the websites of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Correction: In addition to the four multiple-fatality shooting incidents reported above, there was a fifth incident this past July 26, in which two Seminole County (OK) Sheriff's deputies were shot and killed while attempting to serve an arrest warrant. Therefore, 15 officers have been killed in multiple-fatality shootings this year, representing more than one-third of the firearms-related deaths this year in the U.S.


  1. And in July, two Seminole County Oklahoma Sheriff's Deputies were shot and killed attempting to serve a warrant.

  2. Fallen heros.. Its all I can say. I pray for your families.. God be with them.

  3. So very sorry for the loss of these four Police Officers...God Bless their families!My prayers are with them. R.I.P.our fallen HEROS!!

  4. I am sure the brotherhood and the families of Police Officers extend their sympathy and support to the family and friends of these fallen officers. May they R.I.P. .
    Carol Escher, Melbourne, Fl

  5. The prayers, love, and best wishes of all the Officers of the Lantana Police Department are with the families and friends of our deceased brethren in this time of tragedy.
    May God bless those dedicated servants of the community who made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow citizens.

  6. Very sad with Christmas on the way, prayaing for the families.

    God bless them and keep them

  7. local police officers get good pay, good benefits... the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are PAID far less and in MUCH MORE danger!!!

  8. Such a senseless act. This guy had no business getting out of prison. My thoughts & prayers go out to all the families of the victims and to the lakewood community and the police force.

  9. I wish the public would realize that Police, Firefighters and EMT's are just regular people doing a job. They get up each morning, have breakfast, kiss their family goodby and go to work. They choose the careers they are in because they truly believe in making a difference in the world by helping people. Those opposed to civil servants should redirect their aggressions toward those who make the laws which seem to be so offensive to them; the lawmakers. As a wife of Law Enforcement personnel my heart grieves for the families of the officers assassinated in this atrocious act.

  10. Wouldn't have been any worse if the four officers were shot in the midst of a major bank robbery/gun battle, but would have been much more comprehensible. Prayers to the families, and to all of the law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMT's that protect us. You just never know what to expect when least expected. Please stay safe.

  11. "local police officers get good pay, good benefits?" Seriously?? Obviously, you aren't a police officer, nor know many, or such a comment wouldn't come from you. Even in larger cities, the pay isn't that great - not for what they are putting on the line. I'm not saying our troops are adequately compensated, but neither of these is an excuse for such a senseless killing. I never feared for my husband's safety BEFORE he started his shift. Thankfully, something like this hadn't happened while he was still on the force - it would only have been one more reason to worry. Thank you to the officers who have given their lives in the protection of others, and God bless their families. As a former dispatcher, thank you to those behind the radio for the job they do in seeing that our protectors return home safely at night.

  12. May those officers rest in peace. And may God bless the famlies in their time of need.

  13. Peace is not only the absence of conflict but the presence of justice but when your brother and sisters stand there and stand fast to Duty Courage Honor, even if its above and beyond the CALL OF DUTY and finally have that small measure of peace that we all seek but few ever find. That is something to be proud.

  14. Such a terrible and senseless act to be inflicted on any person - regardless of pay or occupation, these are our neighbors, our sister, our brothers. Please save your grievances for state and national fund allocations and pay your respects to four fine souls who wanted to keep us safe. As was said at the prayer service, "we all have a tomorrow" - let's make ours count in honor of those who are not as fortunate. This is a reminder to care of each other.

  15. What would cause someone to even care how much a man our woman makes, or what benefits they may have when something like this happens? These officers were murdered in cold blood in a coffee shop in the United States, not in a war zone. God Bless our troops in Afganistan and God Bless our troops who keep us safe at home. Keep them all safe and when they are taken from us, please Lord, take them in your arms and welcome them to Glory!

  16. I am so sorry for the loss of your brave officers. My thoughts are with you!

  17. Rest in peace borthers, we have the watch now. My prayers go out to the families of the fallen and to the departments for thier loss.

  18. Heavenly Father, evil is evil its mission is to destroy. Please intervene with your divine providence to assist and support these fallen families. They are the heroes who are willing to lay down their lives for the common good just as your "Son" Jesus has done. Please Father, grant your servants everlasting rewards and eternal rest. May their sacrifices obtain a greater good from this evil. Lord, please heal and restore our torn hearts, especially those of the fallen families. Father, here our cries and answer our prayers as we place our trust in you.

  19. If these mentally deranged individuals want to kill someone why don't they just turn the gun on themselves in private. God Bless the families of the fallen officers, those poor children who will find Christmas missing their Mom or Dad. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all...

  20. not sure where anonymous (11/30/09 12:25) gets his information, but he or she obviously doesn't understand that no matter whether you are fighting on foreign soil or your homeland, you deserve the respect and honor of your fellow man and woman. As a female police sergeant, this senseless loss of officers hits home, and makes me more aware of how much responsiblity we all share when making sure our officers stay safe be it as their supervisor, their community, and the government who makes the decisions to pardon sex offenders and violent offenders. RJW120

  21. "Local police officers get good pay, good benefits... the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are PAID far less and in MUCH MORE danger!!!"

    I cannot believe someone would be so disrespectful to the families of these officers and so ignorant as to post a comment such as the one above. No one is arguing over pay and benefits, or ones own opinion about the level of danger a certain profession has. Our military personnel are heroes and are certainly in danger, no one is arguing that. This is for the remembrance of four heroes who died protecting the citizens of Lakewood. These officers were targeted specifically for being police officers, so I think it is safe to say that being a police officer is a dangerous profession. God bless our troops and all my fellow officers. Stay safe.

  22. What a sad, senseless act. My heart goes out to the families and co-workers of these officers. Our prayers are with you all.

  23. To the moron that made the comment about the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan being in more danger: They are two drastically different professions you fool. The troops are doing a hell of a job and deserve more pay. God Bless our troops and their families.
    Don't come on here trying to diminish what these officers did as a profession. Hopefully someday you'll be able to differentiate between a Soldier, Sailor, Airmen or Marine and a police officer. RIP to the officers, thanks for your service and God Bless your families.

  24. "A Good and Wonderful Man Died Today"

    A good and wonderful man died today
    But it's not for him, it's for me, that I pray.
    For now he's safe, he's home and he's free.
    I'm the one left here with just a memory.

    Nobody can tell me why he died.
    A bullet took his life and the heavens cried.
    Did he die for justice? For honor and duty?
    I wish someone could explaine this to me!

    It wasn't his job, it was his life long dream.
    To be a part of the force, a part of the team.
    For he would stand guard, to serve and protect.
    Out of honor, duty, justice and respect.

    I always knew it could happen one day
    That one should decide, for his job, he must pay.
    But to pay with his life-is that really fair?
    I wish the murder knew, the depth of my despair.

    And that of my children, Family and friends.
    Doesn't the murderer know, the pain never ends?
    Who am I, you may ask, to write of such strif?
    I'm one of many, a proud and grieving, police officer's wife.


    Keshia Lewis

  25. As unfortunate as this episode is with the loss of four brave peace officers, it is nice to see that their assailant got what he deserved. Thats the only kind of so called "rehabilitation" that trash like this can understand. It seems that few out of the law enforcement world understand that people like this must never see the light of day again. If his sentence would have been allowed to be carried out, these fine officers would still be protecting us today. Sentences are passed down for a reason not just a whim! If they are sentenced to life in prison, then thats what they must serve. Parole and probation just allows them a second chance to do it again. Police officers protect us from these types everyday, now its time that we protect them as well.

  26. My heart is with you... it will always be with you and yours.

  27. local police officers get good pay and benefits? Whoever would say this is just as bad as the guy from Florida who complained about a funeral for a slain officer a few years back, complaining about his tax dollars at work and that officers are expected to be shot. These officers were ambushed, waiting to start their shift. Two officers were murdered from my dept a few years back in what is suppose to be a safe place for officers, at their own police station. My heart goes out to these officers' family, friends, and agency, and to all those brothers and sisters in blue that paid the ultimate price by giving their lives. They may be gone, but Heroes live forever

  28. "Heros in Life, not death".

    As we still stand let us pray.
    May we stand as one body who will continue to fight the good fight.

    Remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice serving the community to make a difference. Let us remember them and how they lived life as they area heros in life, not death.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with all our brothers and sisters during this time.

  29. Beautiful poem Mrs. Lewis RIP My Brothers and Sister behind the shield. Gone but not forgotten! Sgt. B. Hatcher LaVergne TN


    God Bless and keep each one of you in HIS loving care...Sgt. Mark Renninger, Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Ronald Owens, and Officer Greg Richards -- thank you for your service, and may God give your families comfort and surround them with love during these sad days. Give strength to the parents left behind as they riase these precious children on their own. Protect those who serve to protect us, no matter which uniform they are wearing...each and everyone is a very special and unique person that has answered the call to serve and protect! Amen

    Carol G. in Texas

  31. My deepest condolences to family, friends, and Co-workers at this most difficult time. Godspeed. Hang in there.

    Special Agtent GPM
    WI Dept. of Justice
    Div of Criminal Investigation

    Friend of JB EOW 11/05/04
    Friend of GR EOW 12/06/06

  32. God bless all of our fallen hero's and their families. The life on the streets is something that a civillian will never understand. To all of my brothers and sisters in blue please be safe and watch out for each other.

  33. The thin blue line is constantly stretched but will never be broken as our resolve only gets stronger. Once again it is time for the BROTHERHOOD to support the families of the fallen. R.I.P. we will keep up the watch.

  34. Through out my life, I have been the daughter of a fireman, the wife of a policeman and the mother of a soldier. I have and am very proud of the jobs that they do. My heart goes out to the ones that never make it home. God bless to all the family left behind.

  35. As a fellow officer, I wanted to let each family member know that we have been praying for you all every night before my family & I go to bed. I only pray that time will ease your pain... From our office in Ohio, thanks for your service and god bless you and your families.