he unprecedented assassination of the officers — just a month after a Seattle police officer was gunned down as he sat in his squad car — has prompted an outpouring of shock, grief and outrage from people throughout the region and around the world.
More than 90,000 people posted messages of condolence on a Facebook page honoring four slain Lakewood police officers in the day after their deaths. Several thousand people are expected to line the streets Wednesday night near the Lakewood Police Department as part of a candlelight vigil.
Flags throughout the region are flying at half-staff, and public officials from across the state have issued expressions of sympathy.
The unprecedented assassination of the officers — just a month after a Seattle police officer was gunned down as he sat in his squad car — has prompted an outpouring of shock, grief and outrage from people throughout the region and around the world.
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“Those officers represent us,” said Dean Curry, pastor of the Life Center Assembly of God Church in Tacoma, which is partnering with the Lakewood YMCA for Wednesday’s vigil. “When we see them we know they are standing between us and harm. When they are attacked, we feel it’s an attack upon ourselves.”
The circumstances of the shootings, four officers quietly starting their Sunday in a coffee shop, seemed to touch many of those sharing their reactions online.
“You put your lives on the line for us every single day. You wear those uniforms for our safety and no other reason,” wrote Darla Langdon.
Jean Madden of Wisconsin expressed outrage that the suspected gunman had been released from prison in one state and jail in another despite a long criminal record, including several felonies.
“Why in thunder was he let out of prison?” Madden wrote.
The Facebook page was created by an Edmonds high-school student who is part of the close-knit family of law enforcement. Jacob Kimerer, 17, is himself a Police Explorer who volunteers with the Edmonds Police Department and plans a career as an officer.
His uncle, Clark Kimerer, is deputy chief of the Seattle Police Department. His father, Scott Kimerer, is chief of the Burien Police Department.
Jacob’s father said his son understands the dangers of being a police officer: “He’s already been to four officer funerals, and he’s just 17 years old.”
Jacob Kimerer said he was moved to create the Facebook page after seeing a similar page honoring Timothy Brenton, the Seattle police officer who was slain Halloween night.
Still, he said, he was unprepared for the outpouring of sympathy. As many as 15 posts per minute were being logged on the site Monday.
People from as far away as France and Mexico left comments. In the United States, posts came from Wisconsin, Michigan, Utah and California amid thousands from Washington state.
A constant stream of calls and visitors came into the city of Lakewood and its Police Department Monday. Mourners left cards and flowers outside the Police Department.
Jeff Brewster, Lakewood’s communications director, said he’d received calls from a New York police officer and a Long Island officer who both want to fly out to attend the memorial service on their own time.
The Lakewood Police Department was formed in 2004, and the four slain officers had been recruited from across the region, Brewster said. The department grew over the past five years from 87 to more than 100.
“Before the shooting, we had 103 officers,” he said. “Now it’s 99.”
On Monday, Lisa Brenton, widow of Officer Timothy Brenton, expressed her condolences to the surviving families.
Calling the aftermath of a shooting death a “time of unbearable grief,” Brenton issued a statement that said in part, “Our hearts ache for the families of Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Ronald Owens and Officer Gregory Richards. … Their families are painfully aware of the risks that are inherent in their loved ones’ chosen profession.”
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org