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Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Police murder suspect in Seattle 'aided by friends'

Maurice Clemmons, named in connection with the killings, in a file photo released by US police
A reward of $125,000 has been posted for the arrest of Mr Clemmons

The man suspected of shooting dead four police officers in the US state of Washington is still alive and has been helped by friends, police say.

A sheriff's spokesman said police had spoken to several people who had provided help to Maurice Clemmons since the attack near Seattle on Sunday.

The gunman killed the officers as they sat in a cafe.

Police had earlier laid siege to the Seattle house where Mr Clemmons was believed to be but it was empty.

If I could have known nine years ago that this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously I would have never granted a commutation. It's sickening
Mike Huckabee
Former Arkansas governor

They are intensifying the search for Mr Clemmons, 37, with door-to-door searches and using sniffer dogs. He was apparently shot in the abdomen by one of the murdered officers.

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

'Step ahead'

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff, told the Associated Press news agency that the authorities believed Mr Clemmons had had help, gaining access to guns.

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Police Chief Bret Farrar vowed the killer would be caught

"It's unfortunate he's been a step or two ahead of us," Mr Troyer said.

But he added: "We think his network of people helping him is running out. He's probably on his own."

Tiffany Ryan, a sister of one of the victims, appealed for information on the suspect's capture.

"I would urge anyone who has information about the suspect - please come forward," she told ABC.

The case has sparked anger because Mr Clemmons' 95-year sentence for crimes in Arkansas was commuted in 2000 by then governor Mike Huckabee.

However, Mr Clemmons quickly reverted to his criminal past and was back in prison in 2004. He was released again in 2004.

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

"If I could have known nine years ago that this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously I would have never granted a commutation. It's sickening," Mr Huckabee told Fox News.

Brian Wurts, president of the police union in the murdered officers' district of Lakewood, told AP: "This guy should have never been on the street. Our elected officials need to find out why these people are out."

The case could hurt Mr Huckabee's chances if decides to run again for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, US analysts say.

'Hardest thing'

Earlier, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar described the four victims as "good people and great officers".

The four officers - Sgt Mark Renninger and officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards - were shot dead at the cafe in Parkland, some 40 miles (65km) south of Seattle.

Acting on a tip-off, officers sealed off part of the Leschi area of Seattle on Sunday night, while armed Swat team members ringed the house where Mr Clemmons was believed to be holed up.

As the siege continued through the night, witnesses heard loud bangs, breaking glass, explosions and shots.

But it was later revealed that Mr Clemmons was not in the house.

Chief Farrar, his voice breaking with emotion, told a news conference that he had visited the families of the murdered officers.

"It was the hardest thing I have ever done and I hope I never have to do it again," he said.

"We will get through this, although it is a very difficult time for us and the families."

He praised police teams involved in the hunt for the killer and added: "There is no doubt in my mind that this person will be brought to justice."



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SEE ALSO
US police killer 'will be caught'
30 Nov 09 |  Americas
US police 'shot dead in ambush'
30 Nov 09 |  Americas

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Times Online Coffee-shop killer Maurics Celmmons shot by lone officer - 9 hrs ago
Brisbane Times Officer turns, recognises and shoots USA's most wanted - 10 hrs ago
The Independent Murders suspect killed - 20 hrs ago
Mail Online UK Lone policeman shoots dead fugitive suspected of gunning down four officers in a Seattle coffee shop - 21 hrs ago
Telegraph Seattle coffee shop cop killer shot dead - 23 hrs ago



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