one year, four fallen officers

I’m sitting in the cafe an arm’s length from the spot where four police officers were gunned down one year ago to the day. The Forza coffee shop on Steele Street, the site of the worst police murders in the state’s history, violence and trauma whose impact and etheric scents are still perceptible in the walls, in the air.

I come to remember and pay my heartfelt respects to the four uniformed officers who were shot as they sat sipping their coffees and preparing for their workday on their laptops:

Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Greg Richards, Tina Griswold
and Ronald Owens

cafe photograph of the four

Their lives ended brutally when a black man with a long rap sheet and brazen hatred of police walked in on a quiet Sunday at 8:14 a.m., pulled out his gun and shot them point blank in the heads.

One officer managed to stand, wrestle with the assailant and pull off a shot into the belly of Maurice Clemmons before he himself was killed.

It was that belly shot that branded Clemmons during a massive 2-day manhunt across the region and state before he was fatally brought down in a close encounter with a Seattle patroling cop who very narrowly escaped Clemmons’ ambush designed to kill a fifth officer, then more in whatever time he had remaining in life.

I’ve been at this cafe in the year between that grisly bloody tragedy and today and today made a special trip to mark the one-year anniversary and write and view the newly-erected memorial to honor the three men and one woman in blue.

Forza memorial for Lakewood officers

I was profoundly moved, touched and affected by the horrible murders a year ago and attended community events and viewed the funeral procession and services at the Tacoma Dome. It was the Kennedy assassination on a community level.

So it is that under solemn gray skies befitting the anniversary that I stand at the memorial in prayerful repose and sad remembrance. I am still choked up. Tears well up. Time has softened but certainly not erased the emotions.

a year later where the officers were slain

And then something strikes me while I’m viewing the faces of the four.

The name of Sgt. Mark Renninger is spelled wrong.

On the memorial, it is written Rennenger.

With an “e.”

The correct spelling is Renninger. With an “i.”

Like Paul Revere mounted his horse, I’m a crusader and fighter for right, right action and goodness.

I initiate a fired-up series of inquiries, telephone calls and emails (inc. a letter to the editor).

I can do nothing to bring life back to Mark Renninger, Greg Richards, Tina Griswold and Ronald Owens.

But I will make damn sure that the people responsible for this grave error and sloppiness on a memorial that honors and pays tribute to our fallen four are made aware and informed. Shame on the engravers. Shame 100-fold.

Mark Renninger, Greg Richards, Tina Griswold and Ronald Owens: You are remembered on this day of November 29, 2010, across the country and the state and the community.

Memorial quote by Lakewood chief

We salute you, the Lakewood four.

Roses for the fallen four


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ladywise
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 06:27:54

    You wrote that so well Ally. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. I applaud you for caring enough to come back a year later and especially for calling them down on their mistake. How can you misspell someone’s name on something so important!


    • allycatadventures
      Nov 30, 2010 @ 12:47:12

      @ladywise – ah, ladywise, sweet ‘n’ softie ladywise, it is an honor that this story borne of such tragedy and loss moved you. For my life’s remainder, not a Thanksgiving will pass without remembrances, thoughts, prayers, written messages for the officers and their families as well as a visit to the memorial as my presence in the area allows (which is likely to be only this once, a year from now I’ll be long gone). The truth of they are gone but not forgotten rings crisply, clearly.


  2. mkirkd
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 07:56:38

    Well said and well done!


  3. Country Cinderella
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 13:01:46

    This is a great tribute post, and your actions about the misspelling of the name are to be commended.


  4. Trackback: on luck, ladders and letters « Barefoot Blogger

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