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Suspect in US police killings remains at large

THE suspect in the killing of four police officers gunned down in a coffee shop was not found yesterday in the Seattle home where he was thought to have been holed up overnight, likely wounded from his bloody encounter with the officers.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the location of Maurice Clemmons was not known, and it’s possible he still could be in the neighbourhood. Troyer also said people who know Clemmons told investigators he had been shot in the torso.

“If he didn’t get a ride out of there, he could still be in the area,” Troyer said.

Troyer said warrants for first-degree murder have been issued against Clemmons, 37, who is accused of shooting four officers from the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood on Sunday morning as they were working in the coffee house.

Police surrounded the house late on Sunday. Before heavily armed police officers determined shortly before dawn that Clemmons was not in the house, negotiators spent hours trying to communicate with him, using loudspeakers, explosions and even a robot sent into the house. At one point, gunshots rang through the neighbourhood.

Clemmons has a long criminal history, including a long prison sentence commuted by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee nearly a decade ago, and a recent arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer in Washington.

Authorities allege he killed Sgt Mark Renninger, 39, and officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42, as they worked on their laptop computers at the beginning of their shifts.

Clemmons is believed to have been in the area of the coffee shop around the time of the shooting.

Investigators say they know of no reason for gunning down the officers, but court documents indicate Clemmons is delusional and mentally unstable.

Troyer sketched out a scene of controlled carnage that spared the employees and other customers at the coffee shop in suburban Parkland, about 55 kilometres south of Seattle.

“He was very versed with the weapon,” Troyer said. “This wasn’t something where the windows were shot up and there bullets sprayed around the place. The bullets hit their targets.”

Officer Richards’ sister-in-law, Melanie Burwell, called the shooting “senseless”. “He didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” she said of her brother-in-law.


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