SEATTLE, WA — On November 29, 2009, convicted multiple felon Maurice Clemmons — who had been released as part of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s 2004 clemency program — loaded a pair pistols and drove toward a police station.
Just one week earlier, a bond agency called Jail Sucks had put up $150,000 bond to spring Clemmons from lock-up on charges of child rape and assaulting a police officer.
Now locked and loaded, the 37-year-old, who had been sentenced in 1989 to 108 years in prison for multiple violent burglaries, was planning to mount a walk-in precinct massacre. Along the way, Clemmons mentioned he would also open fire at a busy intersection and take particular aim at “schoolchildren.”
When a flat tire deterred his plans, Clemmons, 37, called Darcus Allen, an old jail buddy, who picked him up and drove him to the Fonza Coffee Co. in Lakewood, Washington at 8 a.m.
Inside the cafe, four Seattle PD officers sat working on laptop computers just before their upcoming shift. Clemmons entered and executed Tina Griswold, 40; Ronald Owens, 37; Mark Renninger, 39; and Greg Richards, 42. He shot each officer in the head, except for Owens, who took bullets to the neck.
Richards managed to plug Clemmons once in the torso. Clemmons responded by shooting Richards in the back and stealing the officer’s Glock firearm.
Darcus Allen then drove to a safe location where friends, family members, and associates offered the cop killer medical attention, comfort, and multiple means of escape.
A massive manhunt concluded two days later when Seattle Police Officer Benjamin L. Kelly pulled over to investigate an empty car on the roadside with its hood raised and the engine running.
As Kelly wrote up the situation, Clemmons ran up to the patrol car and reached for a weapon in his waistband. Kelly fired multiple times.
Two direct hits killed Clemmons on the spot. The gun the killer had been trying to pull was the Glock he took from Officer Richards.
With that case closed, and a rattled Kelly put on routine administrative leave following a shooting, police went to work running down and rounding up anyone who had harbored and abetted Clemmons during his time on the lam. The amount proved staggering.
Cops ended up arresting five people who kept Clemmons on the lam, including his sister, who bandaged his wound, and various other family members who supplied safehouses and getaway vehicles. Darcus Allen, the initial driver, faced charges of aggravated first-degree murder.
Amidst the fallout, the full picture of Clemmons’ insanity came into view. He spoke often of visions in which he ate babies and drank blood.
He once stripped nude in front of family members and ordered two relatives, little girls aged 11 and 12, to fondle him. Clemmons then informed the 12 year-old- that he was Jesus Christ and his wife was the Biblical Eve, just prior to raping the child.
In May 2009, neighbors reported Clemmons “throwing rocks at houses, cars, and people.” Clemmons’ family members met responding officers with violence. Once incarcerated, Clemmons yelled that he was the brother of LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey, and President Barack Obama, and repeatedly threatened, “I’ll kill all you b—ches!”
Another form of madness emerged as well. Even after Clemmons got cut loose decades early in 2000, he repeatedly committed serious crimes in both Arkansas and Washington. Parole boards in both states officially labeled him “highly likely” to break the law again. Somehow, Clemmons kept slipping through cracks until it was too late.
Ranking highest among those who had to answer questions about Clemmons circulating among society was Governor Mike Huckabee. To his credit, on December 9, 2009, the famously conservative Republican politician penned a letter to the public frankly titled, “Why I Commuted Maurice Clemmons’ Sentence.” In it, Huckabee stated:
“Nine years ago, the name Maurice Clemmons crossed my desk. I commuted his sentence from 108 years to 47 years. I take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago. I acted on the facts presented to me in 2000.
Maurice Clemmons was 16 years old when he committed the crimes of burglary and robbery. He was sentenced to a total of 108 years in prison, dramatically outside the norm for sentencing for the crimes he committed and the age at which he committed them.
None of this is of any comfort to the families of these police officers, nor should it be … Our system is not perfect, and neither are those responsible for administering it. The system and those of us who are supposed to make sure it works sometimes get it wrong. In this case, we clearly did.”
For the next seven years, the Maurice Clemmons’ Lakewood massacre stood as the worse mass shooting of police officers by a single perpetrator. Horrifically, Micah David Johnson topped that record by ambushing five Dallas PD officers in 2016. Here’s hoping that hideous record is never again equalled, let alone exceeded.
Recommended For You:
Main image: Maurice Clemmons [Wikipedia]