Wife, colleagues remember the day Lakewood Police Officer Greg Richards died.
GRAHAM, Pierce County — It was the moment every police officer’s family knows can come, and hopes never does. For Kelly Richards, it came Sunday.
Her husband, Officer Greg Richards of the Lakewood Police Department, had gotten up in the dark to begin his morning shift and was out of the house by the time she got up.
She wanted to watch something on TV that morning — and switched it on.
“The first thing I see is four officers from Lakewood shot at the Forza Coffee shop. He had just driven by there a few days ago and said, ‘That is where we have coffee,’ ” Richards said.
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“I was hoping still. But what are you hoping, for someone else’s wife or husband to be dead?
“I called everybody who might know. I called 911, my brother-in-law Steve who is a Tacoma police officer. I got in the car and headed to Lakewood. Then I got a call from Steve,” she said.
“You need to go home,” he told her. So she did.
“And I waited.”
Before long, an assistant chief for the department arrived at her door.
“I knew. I feared it, I couldn’t think about it. This was the job he loved, and the friends he loved, this paid the bills,” she said. “I put it in the back of my mind all the time, said it won’t happen.”
She had told her husband what she wanted if he ever found himself cornered.
“I had always told him, come home to us, get out, find a way out, if you can’t shoot and kill him,” Richards said. But she said she knew, like his colleagues, he would do his duty, no matter what.
It was Greg Richards, 42, who got off the shot that wounded the killer, Maurice Clemmons.
As the manhunt went on, Kelly Richards said she thought, “Let him die from his wound, let him die from my husband’s shots. He would have been so proud if he could have killed that guy.”
And she thought this, of the man who killed the father of their three children: “I want him to suffer. Like we are suffering.”
Lakewood Officer Chris Sorrells was the first to respond to the scene.
“I saw Greg in the doorway face up, but I didn’t know it was him,” said Sorrells, who didn’t recognize him.
“I had to look at his name tag to figure out who he was,” Sorrells said. “And then I just kind of froze.”
Friends since they started in the department in 2004, Richards was the drummer in the rock band they played in together. “I said, ‘I don’t want to be here.’ “
They had trained in the academy to protect themselves, Sorrells said.
“But someone walking into a coffee shop, you are minding your own business, that is just not something you could prepare for,” Sorrells said. “Unless you want to be a robot, and not trust anyone. What kind of person would you be?
“They were not doing police work, not doing a traffic stop. The only reason they are dead is they were wearing a uniform.”