Four Lakewood Police Officers Killed: How Did This Happen?

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Four Lakewood Police Officers Killed

How Did This Happen?

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This past Sunday morning, in a small coffee shop barely 20 miles from my home, four police officers were murdered as they sat doing paperwork. The crime took place in Parkland, a small suburb between the city of Tacoma and Fort Lewis. The officers killed were from Lakewood, an adjacent suburb. This is small-town America next door to the big city. To describe the impact of such a horrific crime in this area is difficult. People have been seen crying as they shopped or stood on the streets. I noticed that no one wanted to talk much in the home improvement store I went to. Memorials have sprung up in several places. The largest is at the Lakewood Police Department building where thousands of flowers, cards and candles fill the sidewalk. The entire area is stunned and in shock. Four dedicated servants of the community are dead, leaving spouses and nine children who have lost a parent. As I write this, news has just come over the radio that the suspect in the murders has been shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. People are relieved that no one else has been injured and the massive manhunt is over. The authorities are in the process now of arresting as many as 10 people who helped the suspect evade authorities over the past three days, including the driver of the getaway car. People are asking, "How did this happen?" The alleged murderer, Maurice Clemmons, had a long history of violence and arrests. He was released early from prison at least twice in another state and later not prosecuted due to paperwork errors. He was arrested here in May for hitting a police officer in the face and for the rape of a 12-year-old girl. According to court records, as he was being booked into the Pierce County Jail he told workers, "I'll kill all you [expletive]." But once again he was released, this time after posting bail. When asked why a probable child rapist with a long criminal record was released, deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn responded, "A typical child rape-2 defendant is summonsed into court, not even arrested. A lot of them are released on their own personal recognizance." I have a difficult time comprehending why child rapists are turned loose so easily. Six days after being released this time, Clemmons reportedly told acquaintances to watch the TV news because he planned to "shoot police." Something is clearly wrong with our system. On a fundamental level our society has lost much of the understanding of evil. The ideas of the humanist movement that permeate so much of our education, entertainment and legal systems have many people convinced of "the good in everyone" and the concept that "all people are the same." They reject the teachings of the Bible, which clearly show that some people choose to be wicked and evil. God's Word also teaches that these people are influenced by an evil being that is referred to as "the prince of the power of the air" and "the god of this age" (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Modern research is gradually demonstrating that God was right to begin with. In his monumental book Without Conscience, Dr. Robert Hare, who has studied the criminal mind for more than 30 years, writes clearly about psychopaths in our society. In the introduction to his book he states, "It is a personality that is characterized by egocentricity, grandiosity, impulsivity, recklessness, contentment with self, and, most disturbing, a total lack of conscience." As a society, we must learn how to better deal with evil. Messages of sympathy and condolence are coming to this area from all over the United States as word of the horrific crime of this week has been reported. We are praying for the victims' families and others who are suffering. We wish there were something more that could be done. It is likely that the Tacoma area will never be quite the same as it was. If you would like to know more about what the Bible teaches, please request our free publications Why Does God Allow Suffering? and Is There Really a Devil?