Commentary: Heroes and villians in Clemmons ordeal

Heroes, villains. Events since the murder of four Lakewood police officers Sunday have produced a fresh crop of both.

The hero of the hour is the Seattle officer who shot and killed Maurice Clemmons in the course of a seemingly routine stop in the Rainier Valley early Tuesday morning. Clemmons – whose possession of one of the Lakewood officers' guns leaves no question of his guilt – had approached the Seattle officer from behind and may have been trying to ambush him. The officer's quick-witted response assured that this predator will never again take an innocent life.

Another hero wasn't alive to hear the news. Clemmons surprised the four Lakewood police with a murderous fusillade in a Parkland coffee shop, but one of them – Greg Richards – managed to reach him, struggle with him and shoot him in the abdomen. A bullet anywhere in the gut is often fatal and always debilitating. Clemmons, who was clearly still in homicidal mode Tuesday morning, might well have gone on to murder others had he not been seriously wounded by the fallen officer.

It's surprising that Clemmons' flight from justice was ultimately ended by a single cop on what appears to have been ordinary patrol duty. The killer was the target of what was probably the biggest and most intensive manhunt in state history.

But we now know how he succeeded in eluding so many cops and so many law enforcement agencies: He had help.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.