12/02/2009

'Strong possibility' of more arrests in slayings of four Wash. officers

By Gene Johnson
Associated Press

SEATTLE — With an ex-convict suspected in the coffee-shop ambush killings of four police officers now dead, authorities focused on pursuing those who may have helped him escape and stay on the lam for two days amid a frantic manhunt.

Prosecutors were expected Wednesday to charge Darcus D. Allen, the man accused of being the getaway driver for Maurice Clemmons as he fled the scene of the shootings at coffee shop in Parkland early Sunday. Allen served time in an Arkansas prison with Clemmons.

Two women accused of giving Clemmons first aid and rides also may be charged Wednesday in Tacoma.

Three other people appeared Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court. Two brothers, Eddie Lee Davis and Douglas Edward Davis, are charged with rendering criminal assistance. A third man, Clemmons' half-brother Rickey Hinton, was ordered held pending charges.

Clemmons, 37, was shot to death early Tuesday by a Seattle police officer.

His death ended two days of fear across the Seattle-Tacoma area and a huge manhunt. Dozens of police officers milled around at the scene afterward, some solemnly shaking hands and patting each other on the back.

Officer Benjamin Kelly had spotted a stolen car, its hood up and engine running, on a south Seattle street 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, Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel said.

The officer turned, stepped outside his car and recognized the most wanted man in the Pacific Northwest. Clemmons was shot by the patrolman after Clemmons made a move for a gun he had taken from one of the slain officers, police said.

"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."

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

Among them, police said, was Allen, a convicted murderer who served in prison with Clemmons in Arkansas and is accused of driving 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.

It wasn't immediately known if she or Allen had attorneys; the other two have pleaded not guilty.

"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 was not entirely clear where Clemmons was while on the run. But authorities believe he visited locations in Seattle, Pacific and Auburn in the hours after the ambush in the Tacoma suburb of Parkland, according to Pierce County documents filed in the case against Eddie Lee Davis, one of those charged with rendering assistance.

On Sunday, Clemmons briefly took refuge at a house in Seattle'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.

Before Clemmons arrived at the Seattle house, a woman described by police as a friend bought medical supplies for him and helped treat the gunshot wound. Clemmons also washed and dried a load of laundry at her house, according to court documents.

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.

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."

Court documents say police first suspected Clemmons after finding an abandoned pickup truck registered to a business address of his. A truck matching that description was seen fleeing the ambush scene by the baristas who witnessed the start of the attack.

"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."

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 that President Obama and LeBron James are his brothers and 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.

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