- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 29, 2009

UPDATED:

TACOMA, Wash. — A gunman burst into a Washington state coffeehouse Sunday and opened fire on four police officers as they sat working on their laptops, killing the three men and one woman in what an official described as a targeted ambush.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said officers were looking for one male suspect who fled on foot but haven’t ruled out an accomplice.

Mr. Troyer said the four officers killed — all from the Lakewood Police Department — were catching up on paperwork at the beginning of their shifts when they were attacked at 8:15 a.m. Sunday.

Mr. Troyer said the attack clearly was targeted at the officers, not a robbery gone bad.

“There were marked patrol cars outside, and they were all in uniform,” Mr. Troyer said.

With no known suspects, there was no indication of any connection with the Halloween-night shooting of a Seattle police officer. The suspect in that shooting remains hospitalized.

Mr. Troyer would not release the names of the victims in Sunday’s shooting.

It wasn’t clear whether the officers even had time to draw their weapons to return fire, Mr. Troyer said.

“This was more of an execution. Walk in with the specific mindset to shoot police officers,” Mr. Troyer said.

There were two employees and a few other customers in the shop. All are being interviewed by the sheriff’s investigators.

“Some are in shock. They are very upset,” Mr. Troyer said. “They are the ones who are going to put together for us how this happened.”

The Forza Coffee Shop, part of a popular local chain, is on a side street near McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, about 35 miles south of Seattle. The shop is in a small retail center alongside two restaurants, a cigar store and a nail salon.

Brad Carpenter, founder and owner of Forza Coffee, said his staff was OK and being interviewed by police, and that his main concern was with the families of the police officers.

“I’m a retired police officer, so this really hits close to home for me,” he said.

Streets around the coffee shop were blocked off late Sunday morning, and a police helicopter hovered over a large crowd of investigators. TV video showed police taking possession of a pickup truck parked in a grocery store in Parkland.

Dave Gabrielson, a clerk at Foot Mart, about a block away from the coffee shop, told the newspaper all was quiet when he opened the store at 8 a.m. About 30 minutes later, “All of a sudden a million cops were zooming up and down the road,” Mr. Gabrielson said.

He said he saw officers bring a police dog into a nearby apartment complex.

The baristas who were inside the shop are “stunned and shocked, traumatized,” Mr. Troyer said.

“We hopefully will have answers, but there is nothing more we can tell you,” he told KING-TV. “That’s as coldhearted as it is.”

Last month, Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed on Halloween as he was sitting in a cruiser with trainee Britt Sweeney, who was grazed in the neck.

Authorities say the man charged with that shooting also firebombed four police vehicles in October as part of a “one-man war” against law enforcement. Christopher Monfort, 41, was arrested days after the Seattle shooting and remains hospitalized.

Mr. Monfort remains hospitalized in stable condition, the hospital said Sunday.

Associated Press writer Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., and photographer Ted S. Warren in Parkland, Wash., contributed to this report.

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