Raid on house comes up empty

SEATTLE — A sheriff's spokesman says authorities believe the man sought in the slaying of four police officers is alive and has been aided by friends and family.

Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Monday night that police have questioned several people who have provided help to Maurice Clemmons since the Sunday morning shootings.

Troyer said investigators now think Clemmons, 37, is on his own.

Officers have said they believe Clemmons was shot in the abdomen during the attack at a coffee shop in the Tacoma suburb of Lakewood.

Troyer also said police are certain Clemmons was in a Seattle house late Sunday night, but was able to flee before police could contain the area. Police staked out the house overnight before SW AT team members determined early Monday that Clemmons wasn't there.

Authorities posted a $125,000 reward for information lea ding to his arrest.

The manhunt came as authorities in two states took heat for the fact that Clemmons was allowed to walk the streets despite a teenage crime spree in Arkansas that landed him a 95-year prison sentence. He was released in 2000 after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee commuted his sentence.

"This guy should have never been on the street," said Brian D. Wurts, president of the police union in Lakewood, where all four slain officers worked. "Our elected officials need to find out why these people are out."

On Sunday, Huckabee issued this statement on his Web site: "Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state."

Police said they are not sure what prompted Clemmons to assassinate the officers as they worked on their laptop computers at the beginning of their shifts. He was described as increasingly erratic in the past few months and had been arrested earlier this year on charges that he punched a sheriff's deputy in the face.

Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer told the Tacoma News-Tribune that Clemmons indicated the night before the shooting "that he was going to shoot police and watch the news."