Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Lone officer 'kills Seattle police shooting suspect'

Assistant Police Chief Pugel said the officer opened fire as the suspect tried to flee

A policeman investigating a stolen car on a Seattle street shot dead the man accused of gunning down four police officers at the weekend, US police say.

Maurice Clemmons, aged 37, was killed in Seattle early on Tuesday, said Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel.

He said the officer recognised Clemmons and told him to stop, before opening fire after the suspect tried to flee.

Four people have been arrested for allegedly helping the suspect elude authorities during the two-day manhunt.

The victims - Sgt Mark Renninger and officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards - were singled out as they did paperwork at a cafe in a suburb of Tacoma, near Seattle, on Sunday morning.

'Increasingly erratic'

Assistant Police Chief Pugel told a news conference that Clemmons was found by a patrolman who stopped at about 0245 local time on Tuesday for a routine check on a car reported stolen hours earlier.

Maurice Clemmons, named in connection with the killings, in a file photo released by US police
Maurice Clemmons had a history of violent crime, say police

He said that while the officer was making inquiries about the vehicle, which was unoccupied with the engine running, he noticed a movement behind him.

He turned to find a man he believed to be Clemmons. The officer ordered the man to stop and show his hands, but the suspect tried to run away, said Assistant Police Chief Pugel.

"He wouldn't stop. The officer fired several rounds," he said, adding that the police officer had not been wounded.

Mr Pugel also said that Clemmons was found to be carrying a handgun taken from one of the dead officers.

He also had a recent gunshot wound in the abdomen, believed to have been inflicted by one of the dying officers who shot at Clemmons as he fled.

A paper-pushing criminal justice system returned a deeply troubled felon to the streets, again and again
The Seattle Times

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County sheriff, said in addition to the four people arrested on suspicion of helping Clemmons since Sunday, up to seven more could soon be in custody.

"Some are friends, some are acquaintances, some are partners in crime, some are relatives. Now they're all partners in crime," he said, according to the AP news agency.

Officials are trying to establish what prompted Clemmons to shoot the police officers on Sunday.

Clemmons' behaviour had been described as increasingly erratic in the past few months, AP said.

Mr Troyer told the Tacoma News-Tribune newspaper that the suspect had indicated on Saturday night "that he was going to shoot police and watch the news".

Parole row

A reward of $125,000 (£76,000) had been offered for information leading to his arrest.

Ambulances with the bodies of the four slain police officers travel to a funeral home in Lakewood, Washington state, on 1 December 2009
A memorial service for the slain officers is planned next week

Police in the US state of Washington had been storming potential hiding places of Clemmons and patrolling streets with dogs.

They surrounded a house in a Seattle late on Sunday following a tip that Clemmons was inside.

After an all-night siege, a Swat team entered the home and found it empty. But police said Clemmons had been there.

The case sparked anger across the US after it emerged that Clemmons had been released from prison despite a history of violent crime.

His 95-year sentence in Arkansas was commuted in 2000 by then governor Mike Huckabee.

Clemmons quickly reverted to crime. He was back in prison in 2004, but released again later that year.

On Monday, Mr Huckabee said he took responsibility for making Clemmons eligible for parole, describing the case as a failure of the justice system.

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