Officer Timothy Brenton
On the night of October 31, 2009, at approximately 10:00 pm , Officer Timothy Brenton and his partner, Officer Britt Sweeney, were both sitting in their patrol car following a traffic stop at 29th Avenue South and East Yesler Way in Seattle. Sweeney was sitting in the driver's seat with Brenton in the passenger seat. As they were debriefing the traffic stop they had just performed, a vehicle pulled up alongside their police car and someone inside instantly opened fire with a rifle. Officer Sweeney suffered grazing injuries with at least one bullet ripping her shirt and ballistic vest. Brenton, meanwhile, was mortally wounded in the attack. The suspect's vehicle reversed, turned around, and fled the scene in the direction from which it had come. As the vehicle was fleeing the scene, Sweeney managed to call for help, exit the patrol car, and return fire. Seattle's police chief called the attack an assassination, as well as an act of domestic terrorism. Several days after the shooting, a suspicious vehicle was identified as having been seen on dashboard cameras of other police vehicles in the area of the shooting.
A public memorial service was held for Officer Brenton on November 6. The memorial began with a procession of police and fire vehicles from the University of Washington campus to KeyArena, where a public ceremony was held. As the ceremony was concluding, officers with the Seattle and Tukwila police departments and King County Sheriff's Office confronted Christopher Monfort, age 41, the owner of a vehicle matching the description of the suspicious vehicle in the parking lot of a Tukwila apartment complex. Monfort brandished a gun and attempted to flee into his apartment. When he brandished the weapon again, the pursuing officers opened fire, seriously wounding him. Monfort was taken to Harborview Medical Center and his family has stated that he is paralyzed from the waist down.
The shooting by suspect Christopher Monfort is believed to have been a targeted attack against police officers in general, not against either officer individually. The suspect arrested in connection with the murder has also been charged in connection with the October 22, 2009, firebombing of Seattle police vehicles at a city maintenance facility. No clear motive was established but he had left fliers discussing police brutality, and had expressed opinions against wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was accused of being a terrorist who waged a "one man war" against the police by authorities.
At the time of the incidents, Monfort had no criminal record in Washington, and in 2007 attended the University of Washington and studied law enforcement.
Upon entering Monfort's apartment, police found three rifles, a shotgun, homemade explosives, booby traps and a barricade of tires. Investigators also have matched ballistics between a rifle found in Monfort's apartment and the bullets used in the attack on Brenton and Sweeney. They also found evidence connecting Monfort with the firebombing of multiple police vehicles at a Seattle city maintenance facility on October 22, 2009, in which prosecutors state he was planning to kill police officers.A DNA match for Monfort was found on the flags left at the firebombing scene and the murder scene.
King County prosecutors charged Monfort with aggravated first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in connection with the shooting of Brenton and Sweeney. He is also charged with arson and attempted first-degree murder in connection with the firebombing at the city maintenance facility, and another attempted first-degree murder charge for attempting to shoot a detective who was pursuing him. As of July 2, 2013 the trial has not yet been held.
Officer Brenton came from a family dedicated to public service; his father and uncle are both retired Seattle Police Officers and his brother in law is a Seattle Firefighter. Officer Brenton first served in the US Army as a veteran of the first Gulf War, followed by service in the Hoquiam and La Connor Police Departments. In 2000, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of following in his father’s footsteps by joining the Seattle Police Department.
Officer Timothy Brenton was posthumously awarded the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor on May 7, 2013. Officer Sweeney received a medal for serious injury.