Person of interest being sought in Lakewood police shooting

Person of interest being sought in Lakewood police shooting
Maurice Clemmons
LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Police here have identified a person of interest in the shooting deaths of four Lakewood police officers on Sunday morning.

Det. Ed Troyer said investigators are looking for 37-year-old Maurice Clemmons, who is under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections.

Spokesman Chad Lewis said Clemmons was transferred from Arkansas, where he had a lengthy record that includes felony robbery convictions.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in 1990, he granted clemency to Clemmons, who'd been given a hefty sentence for one of his crimes.

In 1989, Clemmons, then 17, was convicted in Little Rock for aggravated robbery. He was paroled in 2000 after Huckabee commuted Clemmons' 95-year prison sentence.

Huckabee, who was criticized during his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 for granting many clemencies and commutations, cited Clemmons' youth. Clemmons later violated his parole, was returned to prison and released in 2004.

"He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him," Huckabee said in a statement on Sunday. "Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State."

Clemmons was recently arrested and charged in Pierce County or third-degree assault on a police officer, and second-degree rape of a child.

According to the statement of probable cause, Clemmons was arrested on July 1 for investigation of sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. The alleged victim had told family members that Clemmons made her engage in sexual acts, then told her "she can't tell anybody because he will go to jail for a long time," the document said.

Clemmons' family members told detectives that the man had been acting erratically and unpredictably, convinced the world would soon end. They said Clemmons often told them to "trust him, the world is going to end soon and that he was Jesus," the statement said.

He also believed the secret service was after him because he had written a letter to the president, investigators said.

Clemmons was released on $150,000 bail, and his rape trial was set to begin on Jan. 11, 2010. He was wearing an ankle bracelet that may have been a condition imposed by a bail-bond company that posted his bail last week, but that GPS tracking device was found at a residence searched by police on Sunday.

Troyer told reporters Clemmons was believed to have been in the area around the time of the shooting, but declined to say what evidence might link him to the shooting.

Records indicate Clemmons has been a Western Washington resident since 2002, when he moved to Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood before relocating to South Seattle, then to Federal Way before settling in Tacoma.

Neighbors described Clemmons as a quiet and paranoid man. They claimed Clemmons has installed cameras all around his home in Tacoma.

"About 12 cameras, I think, in the bushes, around the house. Very paranoid," said neighbor Tanz Chalmers.

Neighbors said they knew Clemmons had been in trouble with the law in his past, but they were shocked to discover he was being sought in connection to the deaths of the four Lakewood police officers.

"To think that somebody who lives next door to us could have anything to do with this is scary," Chalmers said. "I mean, we live in a good neighborhood."

Anyone with information on Clemmons' whereabouts is urged to contact police immediately at 866-977-2362. A $120,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman in the Lakewood police shooting.