Search continues for Seattle police officer's killer

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by KING Staff

KING5.com

Posted on November 2, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 2 at 4:14 PM

SEATTLE - Flags in Seattle are flying at half-staff in honor of a Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton, who was shot to death Saturday night.

At a growing memorial at 29th Avenue and East Yesler Way, mourners are also shocked and anxious for an arrest.

"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." 

Roney and other onlookers watched as officers led Timothy Brenton's body from the Medical Examiner's office to the funeral home. 

"It makes me feel sad, my heart goes out to his family," said Lauri Robinson.

Officers from jurisdictions across Western Washington come to the spot where Officer Brenton was killed, with flowers and tears for their fallen brother.

Their grief is palpable, and the community feels it too.

"Our children are roughly the age of his children and the thought that they had to be told their father was gone yesterday is just something that is -- we have a lump in our throats over," said Jeff Strain of Seattle.

For many people, profound sadness is prompting them to visit the growing memorial for Officer Brenton.

"I wanted to physically be present at this place and I wanted to extend my sympathy to the police officers who are here," said Mimi Krsak of Seattle.

Jane Mueller brings comfort to officers in the form of coffee and a smile. She says it's the least she can do for the people who work each day to protect all of us.

"At least keep the men and women who are here keeping guard warm," she said.

Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel says in the 26 years he's been in law enforcement, he's never dealt with something so tragic, random and lawless. 

Pugel said on Saturday night the two officers were sitting in a patrol car parked at the intersection of 29th Avenue and East Yesler Way, discussing a routine traffic stop. A rookie officer, Britt Sweeney, 33, was sitting in the driver's seat; her trainer, Brenton, was in the passenger seat.

Police now believe the suspect or suspects were likely watching the traffic stop and waiting for that vehicle to pull away. Sweeney told them that's when a car pulled up, pinning her door closed, and opened fire.

Sweeney ducked, and a bullet grazed her back. She called for help and returned fire, Pugel said.

The car backed away and fled the scene.

"From everything that we understand, the car literally pulled up alongside the parked patrol car and began shooting," said Pugel. "So it was without warning and it was a deliberate homicide."

"Officer Sweeney not only called for help and called for backup for the fire department, but also got out and returned fire on the suspect," Pugel said during a news conference briefing. 

Sources in the Seattle Police Department tell KING 5 they believe this crime might have been planned.  The gunman approached the squad car from the rear and after opening fire, backed away so that they could not be caught on the dashboard camera.

"Through the years I've seen too many of our fellow officers buried, and it never gets any easier," said Interim Police Chief John Diaz.

Melanie Anderson and her son stopped at the memorial to pay their respects.

"I just think it's sad that someone would do something so heinous and to someone who is here to protect us, and I really hope they catch them," she said.

Officer Brenton was married with two children, a boy and a girl just 11 and 8 years old.

Sources also say detectives are now making contact with every vehicle recently stopped in the area by officers or those who came in contact with police.  They're also looking for traffic or security video that may have captured the gunman's vehicle.

Anonymous tips can be called in to Seattle Police tipline 206-233-5000 or Crimestoppers 206-343-2020.

Cards to the family or 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

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