Image: Police fill a street where Maurice Clemmon was shot and killed
Elaine Thompson  /  AP
Police fill a Seattle street where an officer shot and killed suspected cop-killer Maurice Clemmons.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/1/2009 8:01:23 PM ET 2009-12-02T01:01:23

A lone officer on patrol in the middle of the night Tuesday spotted a car reported stolen, its hood up and engine running, and pulled over to check it out. As the patrolman sat in his cruiser, a burly man with a large mole on his cheek came up from behind.

The officer turned, stepped outside and recognized the most wanted man in the Pacific Northwest — the ex-con accused of gunning down four cops at a coffee shop.

Moments later, Maurice Clemmons, 37, lay dead in the street, shot by the patrolman after Clemmons made a move for a gun he had taken from one of the slain officers, police said.

Clemmons' death brought to an end two days of fear across the Seattle-Tacoma area and one of the biggest manhunts the region has ever seen. Dozens of police officers milled around at the scene afterward, some solemnly shaking hands and patting each other on the back.

"Good thing he wasn't able to get the gun out here or we might have had a different ending to this whole thing," Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. "The officer in Seattle did a good job of making sure he went home safe tonight."

Clemmons eluded capture thanks to family and friends who provided him with shelter, cell phones, cash and first aid for the severe belly wound he suffered when one of the dying officers in Sunday's coffee-shop rampage got off a shot, police said. Six to seven of those associates were being arrested Tuesday.

Among them, police said, was Darcus D. Allen, a convicted murderer who served in prison with Clemmons in Arkansas and allegedly drove the getaway truck after the coffee shop rampage; two men who later traveled with Clemmons as he eluded police; and Clemmons' sister, who bandaged him up and gave him a lift part way to Seattle.

"Some are friends, some are acquaintances, some are partners in crime, some are relatives. Now they're all partners in crime," Troyer said.

Troyer said paramedics were stunned that Clemmons lived as long as he did with the bullet wound. It had been packed with gauze and patched with duct tape.

Frantic search
It was not clear exactly where Clemmons was while on the run. Police rushed from place to place, following tips that often came up empty or yielded only accomplices. They searched homes and apartments around the city and cordoned off a park after a report of blood in a restroom.

On Sunday, Clemmons briefly took refuge at a house in the city's well-to-do Leschi neighborhood, slipping away before police surrounded the home in an all-night siege that ended when SWAT officers stormed the place and realized he wasn't there.

Clemmons has a violent, erratic past, and authorities in Washington state and Arkansas — where then-Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000 commuted his 108-year prison sentence for armed robbery and other offenses — are facing tough questions about why an apparently violent and deranged man was out on the street.

On Sunday, six days after posting bail in Washington on charges of raping a child, Clemmons walked into the coffee shop in Parkland, Wash., a suburb a few miles south of Tacoma, and killed four uniformed Lakewood police officers as they caught up on paperwork on their laptops, police said.

Image: Slain Lakewood Police officers
Pierce County Sheriff's Dept. via AP
Lakewood Police officers Greg Richards (top left), Mark Renninger (top right), Tina Griswold (bottom right) and Ronald Owens (bottom left) were shot and killed at a coffee shop in Parkland, Wash., on Sunday.

"The only motive that we have is he decided he was going to go kill police officers," Troyer said. Investigators also reported that Clemmons told others the night before the shooting that he was going to kill police and they should watch the news, but they wrote it off as "crazy-talk."

In a statement posted on the conservative Newsmax.com Web site, Huckabee said: "I take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago. I acted on the facts presented to me in 2000. If I could have possibly known what Clemmons would do nine years later, I obviously would have made a different decision. But if the same file was presented to me today, I would have likely made the same decision."

Familiar face
The Seattle patrol officer who killed Clemmons, Benjamin L. Kelly, 39, a seven-year law enforcement veteran, will be placed on leave, which is standard procedure after a shooting.

The officer was driving in a working-class neighborhood of south Seattle at about 2:45 a.m. when he came across a stolen car, its engine running, Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel said.

As he sat in his cruiser, beginning paperwork on the car, he sensed movement, turned and saw someone approaching, Pugel said. The officer stepped out and immediately recognized the man, whose face had been all over TV and mugshot fliers memorized by every officer in the region.

The patrolman ordered Clemmons to freeze and show his hands, but he kept moving, and the officer fired several rounds, hitting the man at least twice, Pugel said.

Police said Clemmons would have died eventually of the gunshot wound he suffered in the coffee-shop rampage.

At the time of his arrest in Washington state earlier this year, investigators said Clemmons had visions that he was Jesus Christ and that the world was on the verge of the apocalypse. He also "told the officer President Obama and Lebron James are his brothers, Oprah (Winfrey) is his sister and referred to himself as 'the beast,"' according to court papers obtained by The News Tribune of Tacoma.

A psychological evaluation in October found he was a risk to public safety, but not enough of one to justify committing him, the newspaper reported.

The slain officers Kwere Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, Tina Griswold, 40, and Greg Richards, 42.

A memorial to honor them will be held next Tuesday  in the Tacoma Dome. More than 20,000 members of the law enforcement community, emergency response agencies and the public are expected to attend.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Manhunt ends

  1. Closed captioning of: Manhunt ends

    >>> decision.

    >>> now we move to washington state , where an intense manhunt for an convicted felon wanted in the killing for the four police officers finally ended overnight. a police officer who shot and killed the suspect is tonight being hailed there as a hero. our own george lewis is from parkland, washington.

    >> reporter: as the memorials for the slain officers grows in size, fear has turned to relief for many citizens.

    >> i'm glad the person who did this was cut.

    >> reporter: just before 3:00, the police cars jammed seattle streets where the suspect was gunned down. following up on a stolen car report, the lone officer spotted this man, maurice clemmons , recognized from the mugshot, and ordered to move with his hands out.

    >> that person would in and out show his hanned and also began to move away counterclockwise around the vehicle.

    >> reporter: and then according to police, when it appeared clemmons was reaching for a weapon, he was shot several times.

    >> he is deceased. he had a weapon on him. the weapon is from one of the officers from lakewood.

    >> reporter: three people who allegedly helped clemmons elude police were arraigned today. douglas and eddie davis , who brothers who allegedly drove douglas around be and tended his wounds entered not guilty pleas. they say they did prison time with clemmons in arkansas. the third suspect, ricky henton hashgsz not yet been charged. the third defendant not in court today, the slain officer family's richards.

    >> i know there's justice but not amount of justice will be enough in this world.

    >> reporter: the bodies of richards and his fallen kmads were taken today by fallen department examiners from a precision from a examine area's office to a local funeral home . there will be a huge memorial next week, 20,000 expected. george lewis , nbc news, parkland, washington.

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