Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

US police 'shot dead in ambush' in Washington state


US police said officers were 'targeted'

Four police officers have been shot dead in an ambush at a coffee shop in Washington State, police say.

Officials said at least one gunman walked into a coffee shop in Parkland, near the McChord Air Force Base, and opened fire.

A sheriff's spokesman said the attack was "like an execution" and it was not believed to have been a robbery.

Other people in the coffee shop at the time were not injured. Police are searching for the gunman.

Parkland is in Pierce County, 40 miles (65km) south of Seattle.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said the officers, three men and a woman, had been working on their laptops in the coffee shop when the shooting happened on Sunday morning.

This was more of an execution. Walk in with the specific mindset to shoot police officers.
Ed Troyer
Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman

He described it as a "flat-out ambush" of the uniformed police, adding that none of the employees or any other people inside the cafe were hit.

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

The other people in the cafe were being interviewed by police.

"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."

First reports said there had been two gunmen but Mr Troyer told the BBC he now believed there was only one.

He said the suspect is a black male in his late 20s or early 30s who was scruffy, wearing a black coat and blue jeans.

He said there was some evidence that one of the officers managed to shoot back, possibly hitting the gunman.

Swat members after the shooting of four police officers in Washington State
Police are searching the area for the shooter

He said medical staff should be on the lookout for any person who needed treatment for a gunshot wound and claimed it was accidental.

Theron Zahn, of KOMO-TV, told the BBC that a huge police operation involving hundreds of officers was under way.

"Police helicopters are in the air using their infra-red cameras for anyone who may be hiding nearby. It is a massive manhunt."

Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the gunmen.

They later said they were looking for Maurice Clemmons as part of an investigation.

They said they wanted the question the 37-year-old with a long criminal history as a "person of interest" in the case.

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