Suspect in US police killing shot dead

Seattle, Dec 2 - A suspect in the shocking execution-style killings of four police officers over the weekend was shot dead by a Seattle patrolman who was making a routine check of a stolen car, authorities said.

Maurice Clemmons, 37, had been the subject of a massive police manhunt after he allegedly gunned down the officers as they were filling out paperwork in a coffee shop before the start of their shift Sunday.

He managed to evade capture but was shot early Tuesday after confronting an officer who had spotted a car that had been reported stolen a day earlier. Seattle Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said the officer spotted the car with its engine running and hood open, and was filing a report when Clemmons approached him from behind.

Pugel opened fire after Clemmons refused to put up his hands and appeared to reach for a weapon in his waistband. The weapon was later identified as one that had belonged to a police officer shot Sunday, Pugel said.

"The officer is not wounded and the investigation continues," he said.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County sheriff's office in Washington state, told a televised press conference that police had taken into custody a man who was Clemmons' former cellmate and was believed to have acted as his getaway driver following Sunday's ambush on police. Four other people were also arrested on suspicion of providing assistance to Clemmons.

"We expect to have up to six or seven people in custody by the day's end," he said.

Clemmons, who had been shot in the abdomen during the coffee shop assault, was identified as a violent ex-convict who had a 95-year sentence commuted by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in 2000, when he was governor of Arkansas.

Clemmons has an "extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas, including aggravated robbery and theft," the sheriff's department said in a statement.

He also was recently charged in Pierce County in a case of the assault of a police officer and rape of a child, according to the statement. He was freed from jail only last week on a $150,000 bail.

The suspect allegedly gunned down four police officers - three men and a woman - from the Lakeland police department in Washington state, south of Seattle.

Investigators believe two were shot without warning while seated. A third officer was shot standing up in reaction to the attack, and the fourth struggled with and wounded the gunman before being shot.

All four officers were in uniform and died of apparent gunshot wounds despite wearing bulletproof vests.

"This was an execution, no doubt," Troyer said. "This was a targeted attack."

"I am going to guess he was not specifically targeting these cops. They just had the unfortunate accident of running into him at the wrong place and the wrong time." (dpa)