PARKLAND, Wash. — A replacement flag ceremony was held outside Blue Steele Coffee in Parkland on Monday, 12 years after four police officers were ambushed and killed.
Officers Ronald Owen, Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Sergeant Mark Renninger were gunned down by Maurice Clemmons in a coffee shop in November 2009.
"It was just a pure act of evil for the sole reason of them being officers and the uniforms that they wore," said Police Chief Mike Zaro, who was assistant chief at the time.
He said a shooting like that is not something easily forgotten, but that was partially why people gathered on Monday, to remember and honor the four officers.
"It kind of pushes some of the sadness aside because you know that it’s a group of people that came together to put up this memorial and there’s another group of people that are here every year to redo the flags and make sure that it’s presentable and that it still stands for what it was put there for," he said.
The Nov. 29 ambush of the Lakewood officers set off a massive manhunt in the Puget Sound area for Clemmons, who was wounded by Officer Richards before his death.
On Dec. 1, Clemmons was killed by a Seattle police officer who shot Clemmons four times, believing he was in imminent danger. A jury was unanimous in determining the officer was in danger and that the officer saw Clemmons move his hands toward his waist.
Clemmons' getaway driver, Darcus Dewayne Allen, was sentenced to 420 years in prison after being convicted of being an accomplice to four counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors said Allen drove Clemmons to and from the Parkland coffee shop.
There was a slew of charges against seven people for the slayings, mostly for rendering criminal assistance, but also unlawful possession of firearms. Prosecutors fought for maximum time for anyone who aided Clemmons.
Of the seven, one was acquitted after serving a year. Five others had their sentences overturned or reduced and got out early. All of Clemmons’ accomplices are out of prison, except Allen.
In the years after the officers were killed, the community hosts the Fallen Officer Food/Blood Drive. The event is scheduled for this Wednesday, Dec. 1 from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Since the shooting, more than $240,000 has been raised for the emergency food network.