Police: Seattle Shooting Is 'Domestic Terrorism'
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In Seattle, prosecutors are weighing the death penalty for a man accused of killing a police officer on Halloween. Police say they found homemade bombs in the suspects apartment. Theyre calling this a case of domestic terrorism, as NPRs Martin Kaste reports from Seattle.
MARTIN KASTE: On Friday, while most of the country was still absorbing the news of the shootings at Fort Hood, Seattle was already in mourning.
(Soundbite of memorial service)
KASTE: Inside the Seattle Supersonics' old basketball arena, thousands of police officers and other emergency services personnel attended a memorial for Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton. Constable Chelsie Isobe, a mountie from Vancouver, said it was the cold-bloodedness of the killing that shocked her.
Constable CHELSEA ISOBY (Royal Canadian Mounted Police): I think its just really disturbing for us as, you know, fellow police officers. To blatantly be executed is disturbing.
KASTE: Brenton was in a parked squad car talking to a trainee, when they were both shot without warning. The trainee was wounded, but she was able to help identify the assailants car. Police put out a call for sightings of an early 1980s Datsun. On Friday, a tip led them to one hidden under a tarp in the suburbs. Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel says when detectives confronted the cars owner, he pulled a gun.
Mr. JIM PUGEL (Assistant Police Chief, Seattle): The suspect ran up the stairs, turned around again with the firearm pointed at the detectives. They shot.
KASTE: The confrontation happened just as the Brenton memorial was winding down. And even as police officers were filing out of the ceremony, they started getting calls about the incident. Once the suspect was sent to the hospital, detectives searched his apartment and found more guns, including the one, Pugel says, that killed Officer Brenton.
Mr. PUGEL: The assault rifle found in the apartment is an identical ballistic match to bullet fragments taken from the scene on the 31st.
KASTE: Investigators say they also found DNA linking Monfort to the shooting, as well as to the October 22nd firebombing of several vacant police cars. The suspect, 41-year-old Christopher Monfort, clearly had opinions about law enforcement. He studied criminal justice in college. But in his academic work and elsewhere, he also expressed criticism of law enforcement, says Assistant Chief Pugel.
Mr. PUGEL: His stated grievances were against bad officers, and bad government and people wrongly arrested.
KASTE: Police wont speculate on what might have triggered Monforts attacks. But the firebombing of the police vehicles was on the day of a demonstration against police brutality. It also happens that a local sheriffs deputy was scheduled to go on trial today for allegedly assaulting a teenage girl inside a jail cell last year. That incident was caught on a security video and was released on the Internet. The deputys trial has now been postponed because of the possible link to the killing of Officer Brenton.
Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.