In Seattle, Search Continues For Shooting Suspect
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
To Washington State now, where the search is still on for the man suspected of shooting and killing four police officers in a coffee shop on Sunday.
NPR's Martin Kaste is with us from Seattle. Martin, you have been following the progress of this manhunt. Where exactly are you right now?
MARTIN KASTE: Well, I'm in a park called Cowen Park near the University of Washington campus, and the Seattle police spent a couple of hours here combing through here, looking for some sign of their suspect, a man named Maurice Clemmons. It has been like this for them all day. They've been chasing tip after tip. Here they had reports of blood in an outdoor restroom in the park. And since there's an idea that he might have been wounded yesterday during the attack on the police officers near Tacoma, they cordoned off this whole park and were going over it. It's a wooded park, lots of, sort of, nooks and crannies, there's a ravine, looking for some sign of him. They just called off that search now.
It's been a frustrating day for them like that. They've been going all over the city from the university campus to one neighborhood after another, following all the tips that are rolling in - a lot of information coming in, not a lot that's helped them so far.
BLOCK: And the police are said to be searching for a '97 Mazda Millenia?
KASTE: Yeah, there's a thought that that car is registered to the suspect's wife. And there's some thought that she might be trying to leave the area, maybe head back to Arkansas where they're from. They don't know. They're really, right now they're going on anything and there's some sense that they just want to keep in touch with her. Perhaps she knows more than you'd think. But there's definitely a search here for any clues that might lead to his whereabouts. Frankly, right now they seem to be operating on some assumptions, number one that he's wounded, that they don't necessarily have a lot of basis for.
BLOCK: You mentioned Maurice Clemmons is from Arkansas. He has a long criminal history. Could you tell us a little bit about this?
KASTE: Well, he spent time in prison in Arkansas on a robbery conviction. He left prison early as part of a clemency granted by then governor Mike Huckabee. He later returned to prison when - I believe it was in violation of parole terms and later was released early again, moved to Washington state and led a relatively quiet life here until recently. But now he has several felonies pending against him because of an incident involving the allegation of the rape of a minor and an assault on a police officer.
So there's the - he was, in fact, in jail until a week ago when he posted bail through a bondsman and was released and there's a lot of talk here about why that happened. So he has a very long rap sheet. He's been in trouble with the law, and for that reason and the fact that they have some reports that he may have decided he was going to kill policemen recently, he may have said that to an associate, they definitely have him on their list as a potential suspect here.
BLOCK: And it sounds like the community there is already planning a vigil to honor the officers that were killed.
Martin, thank you very much for staying on top of the story for us.
KASTE: You bet.
BLOCK: That's NPR's Martin Kaste.
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