Vigils across the region for slain Lakewood officers

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by OWEN LEI and TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on November 29, 2009 at 9:06 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 30 at 7:21 AM

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Mourners are paying respects to four Lakewood police officers who were shot and killed in a coffee shop Sunday in what detectives are calling an "ambush."

The four officers have been identified as Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Greg Richards 42.

Police were searching Sunday night for a person of interest identified as Maurice Clemmons, 37. He has an extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas, including aggravated robbery and theft. Clemmons also recently was arrested and charged in Pierce County for an alleged assault on a police officer and child rape.

With just a few hours notice, more than 350 people gathered outside Tacoma's Champions Centre Church. Holding small candles, the group sang "Amazing Grace" and were led in prayer by pastors.

"Four brave law enforcement officers who gave their lives because they were wearing uniforms that represented our protection," said Pastor Kevin Gerald.

For some in attendance, the pain is far more personal. Officer Brian Lynch worked six years with Renninger.

"It was a… It was a total shock today," said Lynch.

Lynch joined a small group of police officers from Enumclaw and Black Diamond in who payed respects in Tacoma.

"We're all on duty. Our departments let us come. Wanted to come be a part of it," said Lynch.

Brad Carpenter also wanted to be part of it. He's the founder of Forza Coffee, where the shootings happened. He knows two of the victims.

"We're in shock. We're numbed. I'm a retired police officer myself, so this kind of hurts us on two different levels," said Carpenter.

As day turned to night, well wishers flocked to the Lakewood Police Department with flowers, tears and heavy hearts.

"No one deserves to die," said one person.

"No words can define what's going on today," said David Chase.

"We're just really sad and just want to show our love and support for our officers," said Holly Pancho.

Some churches interrupted service to break the news. Prayer was the order of the day.

"When you have news of something so traumatic and tragic that affects your community, whatever it is, it's time to stop and ask God for help and guidance," said David Anderson.

The people of Lakewood have chosen to live here with reverence for its police officers.

"Even if you don't know a cop by name. you know them you see them driving you see them in the coffee shops," said Erin Dellinger, a barista at Forza's.

"There's good and there's evil in the world and that's just the world we live in," said Pancho.

Those interested in supporting the families of the slain officers are welcome to make a donation through the Lakewood Police Independent Guild (LPIG) Benevolent Fund at PO Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499.
 

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