The man walked into the strip mall coffee shop shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and "a blank look on his face," a barista would later tell detectives.
Sitting nearby, Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronnie Owens had gathered just before their shifts.
As he entered the Forza Coffee Co. shop in Parkland, Maurice Clemmons’ thoughts were not on coffee but something more sinister: Igniting a hailstorm of gunfire that would change scores of lives, the aftermath playing out across two counties over a frantic 421/2 hours until Clemmons himself lay dead.
New details have emerged in records and interviews to help paint a more complete portrait of the episode, which began to take form the night before the shootings.
Never miss a local story.
On Saturday night, Clemmons confided to two friends – brothers Eddie and Douglas Davis – and his own half-bother, Rickey Hinton – his violent plans for law enforcement, records show.
“Clemmons showed them two handguns and told them he was going to shoot police,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist wrote in a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday.
Clemmons didn’t give his reasons, “other than he was mad about being in jail and didn’t like police officers,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Tuesday.
Clemmons, a career criminal with a history of violence, lived in the Toule Lake Estates subdivision in Parkland. Two blocks away, the Davis brothers and Hinton lived in separate homes on property owned by Clemmons. The tight-knit group often hung out together at Clemmons’ nearby home, bonded in kinship in part by vintage cars.
“He kept some really cool cars,” said Tanz Chalmers, who lived four doors down from Clemmons.
A landscaper who kept his yard tidy, Clemmons trained security cameras around his home and kept his blinds closed. But for the most part, neighbors say, he seemed friendly – until a bizarre incident in May.
A domestic violence call set Clemmons off, neighbors say. He raged through the neighborhood, ranting about Jesus and throwing rocks through several neighbors’ windows, they said.
A few months later, Clemmons was charged with raping his stepdaughter and faced a potential life sentence under the state’s “three strikes” law. He was out on bond at the time of the shootings.
Along with revealing his plans late Saturday, Clemmons also asked Hinton for the keys to a white pickup truck, “which Clemmons said he needed the next morning,” the prosecutor’s affidavit states.
The next day, two baristas were working at the Forza shop on South Steele Street about 8:16 a.m. when Clemmons strode into the store with his blank stare and two guns concealed on his body.
The white pickup Clemmons had borrowed from Hinton idled in a nearby carwash. Waiting at the truck’s wheel, police say, was another friend – a man who previously had served time in an Arkansas prison when Clemmons did.
Clemmons headed to where the officers were sitting, “pulled out a gun and started shooting toward the officers,” records say.
He shot Griswold and Renninger each once in the head, and shot Owens in the neck. As he blasted away, the two coffee shop employees “fled through the back door of the business and left in a car,” records say.
Running for their lives, the baristas drove past the front of the shop, and saw “the suspect ‘wrestling’ or ‘struggling’ with one of the officers in the doorway,” records say.
Officer Greg Richards managed to fire one shot – striking Clemmons in the torso – before Clemmons shot him once in the head, killing him.
Authorities say they don’t know how Clemmons survived.
“The suspect had been shot directly in the middle,” Troyer said, “right where we’re trained to shoot.”
By the time he left the store, Clemmons had fired off all six rounds from a .38 revolver and at least one round from a 9 mm handgun reported stolen in Seattle. He left both guns at the shooting scene but took a loaded .40-caliber Glock from one of the dead officers, records say.
Clemmons then walked to the pickup. From afar, the fleeing baristas watched as the “truck left at a high rate of speed,” records say.
Clemmons had carried out his deadly plan. Now, he was wounded, armed and on the run.
KEYS TO A WHITE PONTIAC
Hinton was outside his home Sunday morning when Clemmons showed up bleeding and on foot.
Hinton would later tell police that Clemmons said “the cops had shot him,” records say.
Before Clemmons showed up at Hinton’s rambler, police say he and his get-away driver abandoned the pickup on Pacific Avenue South. Police later found the truck with traces of blood inside, records say.
Meanwhile, the two Forza baristas were telling detectives about the stocky man with a scruffy beard. One of the baristas picked Clemmons’ mug shot out of photo montage as the suspect who “looked most like the gunman,” records say.
Back at his property, Clemmons roused the sleeping Davis brothers, and Hinton gave them keys to a white Pontiac. Hinton told the Davises “to get Clemmons out of there,” records say, and they drove him to a female relative’s home in the Algona area.
On the drive, Clemmons, bleeding in the car’s backseat, told his friends he had “taken care of business,” records say.
“Douglas and Eddie Davis both understood this to mean that he had shot or killed police officers,” the prosecutor’s affidavit states.
At his relative’s home, Douglas Davis and another person cleaned and treated Clemmons’ gunshot wound, records say. After Clemmons changed clothes, a relative drove him to the Auburn Super Mall, where they allegedly met a third woman, who in turn, drove Clemmons to Seattle, records say.
Once in the city, Clemmons met a female friend at a parking lot, who drove him back to her home, “bought medical supplies (and) helped treat a gunshot wound to his torso,” records say. While there, Clemmons also “changed clothes, washed and dried a load of laundry,” records say.
About 8:44 p.m. Sunday, Clemmons’ friend dropped him off at his aunt’s home in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood, police say.
Already, Seattle officers had been alerted that Clemmons’ aunt lived at the house. They were watching the home from afar when they spotted “a black male on foot near the residence,” records say.
Officers also stopped the woman’s car as she after she dropped Clemmons off. They later searched her home and car and found clothes, blood, gauze, bandages and peroxide, records say.
The woman admitted she’d dropped Clemmons off at his aunt’s house, police say. But by then, Clemmons’ aunt and her family already had fled the house and had gone to authorities. At a Seattle police precinct, they told officers Clemmons “had telephoned them and said he needed a place to stay,” records say.
The family agreed. But before he arrived, they learned that Clemmons had killed several officers and was on the run. They fled and told police.
Scores of police descended on the blue-gray home in Leschi, scouring the neighborhood late Sunday. But after an hours-long standoff at the home, a SWAT team finally stormed inside early Monday and found it empty.
Throughout Monday, the manhunt for Clemmons intensified on the streets of Seattle as police from agencies across the region hunted for the suspected cop killer.
Officers converged on a home and park in Beacon Hill. They searched parts of the University of Washington campus after a bus driver reported dropping off a passenger there who resembled Clemmons. And they responded to a bloody bandage found along a street in Seattle’s Chinatown.
By early Monday afternoon, a team of heavily armed officers dressed in black swept through thickly wooded Cowen Park just north of the UW, after a trail of fresh blood turned up in a nearby playground.
Each time, police came away empty-handed.
THREE IN FOR QUESTIONING
Investigators also followed leads to a home near Auburn. Officers followed a car leaving the home late Monday afternoon, records say. When they pulled the car over, they found the Davis brothers and Hinton inside and took them in for questioning, records say. They gave details to police about Clemmons and his plan.
About 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, a lone Seattle police officer on routine patrol caught up to Clemmons on a quiet street in a working class Rainier Valley neighborhood.
The four-year veteran spotted a silver Acura Integra pulled over on the side of the road with its hood up.
The car had been reported stolen less than an hour earlier, police say. When the officer approached, it was unoccupied.
While filling out paperwork in his patrol car, the officer caught notice of movement. A man was walking up the street from behind. The officer immediately recognized Clemmons, who began reaching into his waistband, police say.
“The officer told him to stop,” Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel said later. “He wouldn’t stop. The officer fired several rounds.”
Clemmons died on a pathway between some holly bushes in the front of a tidy white home. In his front pocket, police say, was the Glock stolen from the fallen Lakewood officer.
Lewis Kamb: 253-587-8542