A 38-year-old man convicted of a double-murder at a liquor store in Arkansas in 1990 is being investigated as the getaway driver in Sunday's slaying of four Lakewood police officers, according to Pierce County authorities.

Share story

A 38-year-old man convicted of a double-murder at a liquor store in Arkansas in 1990 is being investigated as the getaway driver in Sunday’s slaying of four Lakewood police officers, according to Pierce County authorities.

Darcus D. Allen, also a fugitive in an Arkansas bank robbery in March, is suspected of helping Maurice Clemmons, 37, the alleged killer of the officers. Clemmons was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer early Tuesday morning.

In probable cause documents, Allen is quoted as telling detectives he drove Clemmons in a pickup to and from the area where the officers were shot, but didn’t know what happened when Clemmons left the truck for a while. He was not charged with murder.

Allen is one of six people accused of providing assistance to Clemmons while he was trying to elude police after the officers were shot.

Allen and Clemmons, who also had a criminal history in Arkansas, served time together in the Arkansas prison system, according to corrections officials in that state. Both men were in prison in that state in the 1990s and in the early 2000s.

Allen served 14 years of a 25-year sentence on the murder convictions before he was released on parole in December 2005.

The Lakewood police officers were shot in a Parkland coffee shop by a gunman who, according to witnesses, left in a white pickup driven by another man. If police determine the driver knew that officers were targeted, he could be charged with murder, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

Allen, who was booked into jail in Pierce County on Tuesday, is being held on warrants issued out of Arkansas that will keep him in custody, said Pierce County deputy Prosecutor Stephen Penner.

One of those warrants relates to Allen’s probation on a drug conviction in that state. Two fugitive warrants stem from pending charges against Allen, accusing him of aggravated robbery and theft in Arkansas.

The fugitive warrants stem from a March 22 robbery at a Bank of America branch in Little Rock.

Documents signed by Little Rock police detective Alma Glascock state that two men entered the bank with handguns and ordered customers to the floor. One of the men jumped over the counter and took money while the other man, armed with a silver handgun, threatened clerks and customers, according to the documents.

A bank surveillance photograph broadcast on television led to an anonymous tip that the man with the silver handgun was Allen, the documents say, and the bank manager and teller both picked out Allen from a group of photographs.

Allen has eluded arrest in that case and felony warrants were issued charging him with robbery and theft, according to documents.

Allen also has an active warrant from 1989 on a minor drug possession charge. He failed to pay a $318 fine.

Allen was one of five defendants charged in a double-slaying at a Pulaski County liquor store in 1990, according to the story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

Allen, then 19, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in January 1991 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

The guilty plea, negotiated to a reduced charge, stemmed from two killings at Art’s Liquor Store. Allen originally had been charged with two counts of capital murder, aggravated robbery and theft.

The reduced charge and sentence allowed Allen, with good behavior, to qualify for parole in fewer than seven years, the newspaper reported.

Killed were Thomas Findley, 61, who owned the store, and Charlotte Fowler, 41, a longtime clerk, the newspaper reported.

According to statements by the defendants to police, two men entered the store while Allen and two others waited outside in a stolen car, the newspaper reported.

The state’s case against Allen was considered the weakest of the five, but was bolstered by the guilty plea of a co-defendant who agreed to testify for the prosecution against the other defendants in exchange for a 60-year sentence, the newspaper reported.

Allen told Circuit Judge John Langston in Arkansas that he was aware that a robbery was planned and that he shared in the proceeds of the crime, the newspaper reported. He said he had been drinking all day, but knew the two men who entered the store had guns and that he was sober enough to make a decision to end his participation.

It is unclear when Allen moved to Washington. In June, he was cited in Pierce County District Court for driving with an invalid driver’s license.

Seattle Times reporter Mike Carter reported from Little Rock, Ark. Times new researchers David Turim and Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com