Police believe officer's murder was planned

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by KING 5 News and KING5.com Staff

KING5.com

Posted on November 2, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 3 at 7:15 AM

SEATTLE – Police now say the shooting that killed a Seattle police officer late Saturday night was a planned hit. With no word on any arrests or even a suspect, police and the community are on edge.

"We're not safe. Having something like this happen, something like this done to the community, I don't feel safe," said neighbor Gloria Farley.

"I wonder what the state of our country is when this continues to happen like this," says Rick Roney of Seattle.  "I just don't understand. I just don't understand."

Detectives are working the neighborhood and neighbors are worried about the person that police are calling an assassin on the loose.

Investigators believe the gunman approached Brenton and rookie officer Britt Sweeney as they sat discussing a traffic stop at 29th Avenue South and East Yesler Way. The gunmen drove close enough to the police cruiser so that Sweeney, who was in the driver's seat, couldn't open her door before ducking down as the gunman opened fire. The killer then backed up, made a three-point turn and headed north up 29th.

Sources in the Seattle Police Department tell KING 5 they believe the driver backed away so that the car could not be captured by the cruiser's dashboard camera.

The bullet grazed Sweeney's back.

Chief John Diaz was emotional when addressing the Seattle City Council Monday, saying the killer apparently picked the pair at random and waited for the perfect time to strike.

"It looks like the individuals watched the stop happen and waited until that person had left and then came up to the vehicle," said Diaz.

Detectives have pulled video cameras from all pertinent police cars and from nearby businesses. Seattle police brass are also planning to deploy SWAT teams to backup their officers up on the streets. They're advising all other agencies in the area to do the same, implying that, until the killer is caught, no cops are safe.

"This terrible murder wasn't even an incident, it wasn't a call. It was 2 human beings sitting in a patrol car doing their job," said Asst. Chief Jim Pugel.

One man was detained by police after making what are described as veiled threats to police officers.

Seattle police are investigating whether the shooting is connected to the Oct. 22 arson of four police vehicles.

Officer Brenton is survived by his wife Lisa, his 11-year-old daughter and his 8-year-old son.

Officer Britt Sweeney is also known for having a gift for working well with people. She was a personal trainer at Denali Fitness before she decided to become a cop.

"She seems to always know what she's doing," says Denali Fitness Owner Michelle Croom. "She's a very steady person. She's a great personal trainer, she knew her clients well and had a good instinct for people."

Her friends believe that instinct, along with her strength and athleticism, may have saved her life Saturday night.

"When I heard the way she reacted and responded, not only was I proud and saddened, but it wasn't shocking to me," says friend Don O'Neil. "Because we all know she's anincredible athlete."

O'Neill is a co-host of KIRO Radio's "Ron and Don Show." He took spin classes from Britt Sweeney when she was an instructor. Today on the air, he encouraged witnesses to come forward, as listeners sounded off on the shooting.

"The person who did this, with the assistance of whoever was driving, is the most evil that you've got," says one listener who called in.

"She left a voice mail today," says O'Neill. "And you can tell that she's shaken up."

The reward for information leading to an arrest and charges is up to $40,000. The police tipline is 206-233-5000 or you can call Crime Stoppers at 206-343-2020.

The memorial service for Officer Timothy Brenton is scheduled for Friday, November 6 at 1 p.m. at the Key Arena.

Cards to the family or Seattle Police Dept. and donations for the family may be sent to:

Family of Officer Timothy Brenton
c/o Seattle Police Department
1519 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122-3907

KING 5's Eric Wilkinson and Elisa Hahn contributed to this report.

 

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