TACOMA - Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar intends to be first in line today when the Parkland coffee shop where four of his officers were gunned down Nov. 29 opens for business for the first time since the shooting.
The Forza Coffee Co. outlet at 11401 S. Steele Street will open its doors at 8:14 a.m., according to a company news release.
The shop has been closed since the deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards, who were killed as they gathered inside the establishment before the start of their patrol shifts. The shooting was first reported at 8:15 a.m.
A massive memorial service honored the four officers Tuesday at the Tacoma Dome.
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On Thursday, Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County performed a “moment of blessing” at the shop. The brief spiritual ceremony was intended to cleanse the shop and reclaim it from the violence.
After the ceremony, there was a private gathering inside the cafe for the officers’ families, Lakewood police officers and the Forza staff. At that time, the “overwhelming decision” was made to re-open the shop, the news release states.
“The police officers and families of the four heroic officers expressed their desire to re-open to demonstrate that hate will not win,” the release states.
In addition, Forza workers expressed a desire to serve “those who serve us.” Company officials worried that if the cafe closed, another tenant would eventually lease the space and “the sacrifices of the four fallen police officers may go unremembered,” the release states.
Forza will be placing plaques inside all its stores in memory of Renninger, Griswold, Owens, Richards and Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton, who was gunned down while sitting in a patrol car the night of Oct. 31.
“Forza Coffee Co. will always be tied to this tragic incident and has determined that the memories of the fallen officers should always be a part of their stores, both existing and future,” the news release states.
“Every new Forza location in the United States in the future will always open for business on the first day at exactly 8:14 a.m. The first beverage and first customer will be a representative of the local law enforcement community. We will not forget.”
Brad Carpenter, CEO of Forza, encouraged customers to visit the Parkland Forza.
“We will be focusing on the love expressed by the sacrifices of the officers in their selfless act, as well as the love expressed in the memorials, well wishes and prayers,” he stated in the release.
Forza will accept donations for the Lakewood police officers’ families on its Web site – www.forzacoffeecompany.com – through Jan. 1.