W. Wash. in shock over officers' killings

W. Wash. in shock over officers' killings »Play Video
An impromptu memorial is forming outside the Lakewood Police Department headquarters. The flag outside the building has been lowered to half-staff.
The cold-blooded killings of four Lakewood police officers in a Sunday morning ambush left Western Washington in shock, less than a month after the brutal killing of a Seattle police officer.

And it brought home once again the fact that law enforcement personnel put their lives on the line every time they put on a uniform and report for duty, local leaders said.

"I am shocked and horrified at the murder of four police officers this morning in Pierce County," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Our police put their lives on the line every day, and tragedies like this remind us of the risks they continually take to keep our communities safe."

"My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of these officers, as well as the entire law enforcement community," she said.

Brian D. Wurts, president of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild that represents the fallen officers, could hardly contain his anger and grief as he responded to the tragedy.

Calling the shootings "a cold-blooded assassination" by "a complete coward and threat upon all of society," he said the shootings had left him numb.

"We were dealt a nasty blow; good men and women I have had the honor of knowing for years are senselessly gone," he said. "There is no way to comprehend it, to validate it, or to make sense of any of it. You cannot understand evil like this, as a community we must form a solid bond against criminals and hold them accountable."

He pleaded with the community to remember the fallen officers' families with their prayers and donations.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul A. Pastor called the shootings an attack on the entire community.

"This is an example of the danger faced by men and women in uniform every day," Pastor said. "The people or person who did this harmed not only these officers, but harmed the work we do every day in the community."

State Attorney General Rob McKenna said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the police officers murdered today in Lakewood. This outrageous act of violence against our brave protectors is a direct assault on the safety of our entire community."

An impromptu memorial is taking shape near the scene of the shootings, and is growing as more people add flowers and notes of kindness.

The scene of the slayings, a Forza Co. coffee shop near Lakewood, is owned by Brad Carpenter, a retired police officer.

"As a retired police officer, this senseless shooting hits extremely close to home to me," Carpenter said. "These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and this crime cuts deep into the heart of the entire Forza family."

"It hurts them because these were not just customers, they weren't just police officers, they have formed a relationship. They knew each of them by name, knew their drink, knew a lot about them and their families. This is like a loved one being taken from them also," he said.

Rich Jennings, who owns the Forza Coffee Co. chain, said immediate action will be taken to establish a donation area at each Forza coffee house for the benefit of the families of the officers who lost their lives.

"Our prayers go out to the family and friends of these officers in the face of this horrific tragedy," Jennings said.