Four local police officers were killed this morning at a Parkland-area coffee shop, and dozens of investigators backed by search dogs and a helicopter were hunting for their killer.
Witnesses described the killer as a black man, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-9, in his 20s or 30s, with scruffy facial hair and wearing a black coat and blue jeans.
He walked into the Forza coffee shop at 11401 S. Steele Street about 8:30 a.m. and opened fire on the four officers, who were at a table doing pre-shift paperwork.
The man then fled southbound on foot.
The officers – three men and one woman – all worked for the Lakewood Police Department. All were in uniform. Their families have been notified, Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.
"This was an execution, no doubt," Troyer said. "This was a targeted attack."
The Sheriff's Department will be the lead investigating agency on the homicides.
Investigators don't know what kind of weapon was used or how many shots were fired. It's not known whether any of the officers were able to fire back, Troyer said.
Troyer said if anyone sees police activity, to stay away.
Law enforcements from all over the region have responded to the scene.
The Sheriff's Department is in the process of notifying next of kin and coworkers.
"We are having a lot of colleagues wake up to this news," Troyer said.
The gunman opened fire with a handgun. The baristas and two customers inside were not injured.
Police are possibly looking for another person and are searching multiple places, including residences and parking lot, Troyer said at a news briefing.
There is no information on the motive for the deadly killing. There was no preexisting threat against the officers.
As of right now, there is no link to the Oct. 31 slaying of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton, who was gunned down as he and a colleague sat in a patrol car in Seattle. Police have arrested a man in connection with that case.
The Sheriff's Department has set up a special tips line: 866-977-2362. Tipsters also can call Crime Stoppers at 253-591-5959. There is a $10,000 reward.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said he's following the developments in the slaying of the four officers.
"Our hearts go out to the families," he said. "One of our main concerns right now is we still have some crazy coldblooded killer or killers on the loose."Witness accounts from the four officers killed this morning in a coffee shop.
Mike Bostwick drove the coffee shop this morning as just as a couple of police cars were arriving moments after the shooting.
"I saw three vehicles pulling into Forza right off the bat," he said.
"I was trying to say out of the way."
Bostwick said the officers have been working on gang issues in the area.
"I feel safe again," he said. "I think the response is wonderful."
Jim Waldeck of Spanaway said he was on his Ralph's Tavern for a cup of coffee like every day. He drove by the coffee shop and saw two Lakewood cars out front.
"That's not unusual," Waldeck said. "It's pretty scary."
At Rollies Tavern nearby, the plasma TVs usually tuned to football had Northwest Cable News on. Three bar patrons live next door to the Forza.
Jerry Arnold, 45, was in bed when he was awakened by sirens. He's lived there seven years and never seen anything close to Sunday's scene.
"I've never seen anything like it," he said. "It's always been a nice area to live.
"I hope they get them. I can't sleep until they do. Those guys could be hiding in my backyard."
Drew Ruttin, 29, says the area is relatively low-crime: "it's a busy enough thoroughfare that it stays safe. But this is just crazy."
David Gabrielson, 27, lives in the Willow Park Apartments across the street. He's a cashier at the nearby 76 station.
He got into work at 8. At 8:30 to 8:45 a.m.
The cops started going crazy. Tons of cars blaring their sirens," he said. "This neighborhood's not that bad. At least I used to think so."