Sunday, November 08, 2009

Threatening Note Takes on Greater Significance in Retrospect

A note left at the Seattle Police maintenance lot just nine days before the murder of Officer Tim Brenton and the wounding of Officer Britt Sweeny is taking on some added significance for many.  The note was left at the lot along with a flier about police brutality, and it included a threat that there would be loss of life on the police force.  Many are wondering whether the Seattle Police Department could have provided officers better warning to be on alert prior to the Halloween night ambush – particularly some officers themselves. 

I wonder how many threats the department becomes aware of each year?  In this instance, it would be human nature to expect an arsonist or firebomber to carry out a threat – if ever – by using a firebomb or pipe bomb.  Typically a killer that will use a detached method of killing will not later choose a more ‘up-close’ method.  In this case, it now looks like this will indeed be that unusual circumstance where the original crime was carried out on property using a fire bomb, but the crime which carried out a threat to kill was carried out using a rifle. 

Over at, there are rumors of some grumbling by Seattle Police officers, who feel that the department didn’t do all it could to protect officers from the specific threat to kill a policeman which was left at the location of the fire bombing October 22.  I was particularly interested in a comment made by a reader there, who indicated that through listening to the scanner regularly he thought that the department may have taken the threat to be significant, but expected it to be carried out by use of a firebomb and not a gun.  He cites examples where SPD was extremely cautious with situations where suspicious packages or barrels were discovered.  It is an argument that resonates with me, for the reason I mentioned earlier in this post:  killers seldom progress from poison or arson to guns, knives or hands in committing a murder.  I think the commenter is correct in his statement that SPD probably took the threat seriously, but never expected it to be carried out with a rifle instead of a bomb or fire bomb. 

Beyond that, I will be surprised if there are not threats made on officers every week – we already knew of two in addition to the one left by Monfort, and those were in the days just before the attack at 29th and Yesler.  I doubt that the department could change deployment practices to protect the officers in response to very many threats.  The officers already wear protective equipment, and are trained to be alert to any potential threat.  Prior to an act that is unprecedented in post-war Seattle, it would be an almost unforeseeable event that a man would ambush and murder officers in their patrol car.  Looking back, we all wish they would have somehow known to take this threat seriously.  I hope that with the shooting and arrest of Monfort we will have seen the last of this type of attack. 

Suspect Christopher John Monfort remains in serious condition and under police guard at Harborview Medical Center.  His mother and aunt have traveled from Alaska to Seattle and have asked John Henry Browne, a well-known Seattle criminal defense attorney, to help them with the case.  At this point neither Browne or family members have been allowed to see Monfort.

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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