LAKEWOOD, Wash. - What kind of people would help an accused cop killer run from the law?
KING 5 News has learned that suspected police killer Maurice Clemmons headed a close-knit group.
"He was a good guy. He would help anybody. You could pick up the phone and he was there to help you," said Clemmons' friend, Mai Pettes. For three years, she's hung around with Clemmons the group of relatives and other men he employed with his landscaping and towing business.
"We just hung out, watched movies. Pretty much it. Went to eat. Regular stuff," said Pettes.
Pettes says Clemmons was the leader and advisor of the group that was almost entirely made up of transplants from Arkansas. The people she counts as friends are the ones now accused of helping out Clemmons after Sunday's bloody crime.
Pettes says she might have done the same.
"I don't know what to say. I wasn't put in the position, so I couldn't say if I would have done it or not. They did it. They had their reasons," said Pettes.
She says she didn't consider the group dangerous.
"No. I was never in danger. I was never harmed or made to do anything I didn't want to do," said Pettes.
But court records tell a different story. This year alone, Clemmons and his friends and relatives were accused of assaulting police officers, drug crimes involving the sale of coke and ecstasy and even an assault on Pettes, who seems to suffer a memory lapse about that side of the group.
"I don't know anything about that part," said Pettes.
Pettes says Clemmons was falsely accused of crimes, including child rape this summer involving a family member.
"You think about how you would feel. You're coming unwrapped, too. You're losing everything. Your wife, your kids, your business. You would come unwrapped, too," said Pettes.
Pettes wouldn't say if she believed Clemmons committed the murders, and said the following when asked if she was remorseful over four senseless deaths.
"I just don't have any feelings right now about it, you know what I'm saying? Maybe it hasn't really got to me because it's only been a few days," said Pettes.
What you learn from talking to Pettes and reading court documents filed in the case is that Clemmons had some kind of spell over these people, and it's not broken, even though he's believed to have committed one of the worst crimes in state history.