In what may be a modern-day first in Seattle crime, veteran Seattle Police officer Tim Brenton, 39, (right) was ambushed and killed>"/>
Updated, 3:30 p.m.
In what may be a modern-day first in Seattle crime, veteran Seattle Police officer Tim Brenton, 39, (right) was ambushed and killed Saturday night in the Central District by a drive-by shooter, police say, while rookie student officer Britt Sweeney, 33, was slightly wounded but escaped death. A search is now underway for the shooter or shooters, and $21,000 in rewards are being offered for information; Mayor Greg Nickels also ordered all city flags to fly at half-staff in Brenton's memory.
An SPD officer nine years, Brenton was married, had two children, and lived in Marysville. At a Sunday afternoon press conference, Interim Chief John Diaz, taking deep breaths as he spoke (left), called it a "despicable and cowardly" act, and Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel termed it an "assassination..." Witnesses indicated the assailant fired a number of rounds from what may have been a semi-automatic weapon. Pugel said Sweeney saw the shooter and ducked, shouting for Brenton to get down, but it was too late. Though both officers wore body armor, the shots hit Brenton in the head, grazing the neck of the crouching Sweeney, tearing her clothing.
Brenton was the eighth officer to die in the line of duty since 1985, but this is the first shooting death of an officer since Antonio Terry in 1994, who was slain after stopping to help what he thought was a stranded motorist; though in plainclothes and unmarked car, he was recognized by one of those in the car, a crime suspect, who opened fire.
According to SPD, Brenton and Sweeney were parked in a blue-and-white patrol car in the 100 Block of 29th Avenue South in Leschi, going over details of a traffic stop they had made a few minutes earlier, when the shooter car pulled up at 10:06 p.m. (Crime scene video from CentralDistrictNews.com)
Sweeney was behind the wheel and Brenton was in the passenger seat. The shooter in the crime vehicle, described as a small light-colored (possibly gray or silver Toyota) sedan, fired multiple shots at close range.
Brenton was killed instantly, police said. Sweeney was able to bail out of the patrol car and return fire several times, possibly striking the fleeing suspect vehicle. She made a dramatic "officer down" radio call and pleaded for additional units. Pugel said officers commended Sweeney - in her 7th month of training - for coolly acting as a veteran officer would.
In a statement, SPD says "This investigation is very much active and ongoing, and is a priority for the Department." Chief Diaz said "We will not rest until we make sure the people involved are brought to justice."
A police tip line has been set up at 206-233-5000. Anonymous callers can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or send a text to CRIMES (274637), under "TIP486.? Callers could qualify for a cash reward of up to $1,000. An additional $20,000 reward is being offered by the Seattle Police Officer's Guild.
KOMO video/Officers arrive at Bonney-Watson Funeral Home