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Lakewood Police murders remembered one year later

AP (Ted Warren)
In this photo taken a year ago at the memorial for the four fallen Lakewood Police officers, an officer salutes during ceremonies at the Tacoma Dome on Dec. 8, 2009.

It was one year ago that four Lakewood police officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. Their assailant was Arkansas parolee Maurice Clemmons who was later shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. Today Governor Chris Gregoire will help dedicate a memorial to the slain officers at Lakewood’s police headquarters.

It was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, and Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Ronnie Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards were about to go on shift. They met at Forza coffee shop to plot the day. Little did they know, Maurice Clemmons was plotting their murders.

Clemmons walked into the shop, approached the counter and then turned and opened fire. All four officers were killed.

A year later, Brian Wurts, president of the Lakewood Police Guild, says the department has yet to fill the positions left by the slain officers. 

“Nobody’s beating down the door. I think that if you’re a family man or a family woman and you’re talking to your spouse about whether you want to get into law enforcement or not is you could be a firefighter, you could be all of these other things and make the same money and not wear a badge and be a target and that’s what changed November 29th,” said Wurts.

The murders resulted in several changes to the state's criminal justice system including a constitutional amendment approved by Washington voters earlier this month. It allows judges to withhold bail in certain cases. 


Details of Monday's Memorial Service

Location:   Lakewood Police Department, 9401 Lakewood Drive SW

Time:           10 am

Pierce County Transit will be offering free bus service from Lakewood Towne Center to the Lakewood Police Department, with return service.

Shuttles run every 15 minutes, beginning at 8 am and continue through noon.

If you want to take the shuttle from Towne Center, you're advised to park in the lot behind Barnes & Noble and Target.

Lakewood Drive SW will be closed between 100th St. SW and Steilacoom Blvd. while the memorial dedication service takes place. The closure will affect Pierce Transit routes 202, 206 and Sound Transit route 574.

 All Day Food Drive

Lakewood Police are accepting donations of canned and boxed food, as well as baby food and formula and fruit juices (no glass items or home canned goods). The donation taken up in memory of the four slain officers. You can drop off those items at police department headquarters between 8 am and 5 pm today.


This post updated at 8:49 am, Monday

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.