Thursday, November 12, 2009


Last Friday, I saw Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton's family get out of a black SUV with tinted windows. I saw the family walk through a human gate of saluting law enforcement officers, a sea of blues and reds, into the empty hole of Key Arena. I saw Officer Brenton's son carrying the American flag, his daughter in a pretty dress, both tow-headed and solemn. I wondered if these two small children understood the gravity of their father's funeral, a man who died while serving the city of Seattle, a man executed while doing his job. Reporters around me struggled to hold in tears at Officer Brenton's memorial service, as the gigantic video display showed this man as a boy, as a married man, as a father. He was always smiling.

Last Friday the newsroom erupted in shouts, ringing phones and live interviews as police zeroed in on the suspect of this horrific crime. We went wall-to-wall with breaking news coverage, the excitement of it all a papable buzz. The man had turned his gun on detectives, and was shot in the head, rushed to Harborview. He's recovering now from his wounds, something the Officer he's accused of murdering will never do.

There's a Facebook page dedicated to Officer Timothy Brenton, and 20-thousand people are members. His wife, Lisa, posted pictures of that fatefall Halloween: the kids carving pumpkins, walking down a wooded trail. Underneath the photo is the caption: The Last Walk. I think of that family, loving each other, celebrating this Halloween day, and kissing their father and husband goodbye. None of them knew he'd go out on patrol, and get blasted with fire from an assault rifle, never to come home again.

Last night I dreamed of this woman, Lisa, this devastated wife. I went to her house for an interview, no recording devices allowed, and she told me how much she was hurting, how she was trying to rebuild her life. I think about her often and what she must be going through, a feeling I hope I never know.

Today I will attend a press conference at the King County Prosecutor's office, to find out what charges they will levy against this Christopher Monfort. He's accused of killing Officer Timothy Brenton, wounding Officer Britt Sweeney, and firebombing several police cars in downtown Seattle. The accused man's motives will never be understood for me, but hopefully through this charging, the family will find some peace.


andrea said...

Just so senseless, so so senseless.

Colleen said...

Your post made me cry. It's just so sad, so senseless. I hate to think of children without one of their parents. That's something they'll carry with them the rest of their lives, they'll have to explain to everyone in their lives why they don't have a dad.

Paula said...

This was an excellent description of a tragic situation. There seems to be so many shootings these days - each one, devastating the families of the ones who had their lives so brutally and senselessly taken away. I believe there is no room for sympathy for the shooters, any of them - only for the victim's families. One person even in my neighborhood shot his family because they were going through financial difficulties. Another in Portland shot his wife (and others) at her work, who was divorcing him. I can't begin to understand what makes people think they have the right to destroy other peoples' lives.