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Originally published November 6, 2009 at 4:01 PM | Page modified November 7, 2009 at 12:55 AM

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A photograph on seattletimes.com of a patient being carried on a stretcher at Harborview Medical Center Friday misidentified the patient as the suspect in the shooting of Officer Timothy Brenton.

Suspect in officer's slaying shot by police

A man sought in connection with the shooting of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton has been shot by police in Tukwila, according to a law enforcement source.

Seattle Times staff reporters

Police search for suspects

A man sought in connection with the shooting of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton has been shot by Seattle police in Tukwila, according to police.

The man, 41, was shot in the head at 2:50 p.m. and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. The man was in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Sources say the man is Christopher J. Monfort. Records show he was a student at Highline Community College. An adviser there said he was interested in criminal justice.

Monfort apparently has no felony history though he has two traffic infractions in Snohomish County. In September 2007 he was cited for a defect turn signal and in March this year he was ticketed for speeding. Most recently he worked as a security guard, although he was recently laid off, according to a source.

Seattle and Tukwila police went to the apartment complex in the 13700 block of 56th Avenue South early Friday after receiving a tip about a car matching the description of the 1980 to 1982 Datsun 210 coupe seen near the site where Brenton was slain, said a source close to the investigation.

A dark-colored sedan resembling a police cruiser also was found parked near the Datsun. Investigators are looking into whether Monfort owned that car as well.

Police found the Datsun, draped with a car cover. They waited until a man approached the vehicle, the source said.

King County sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart said three detectives confronted the man in the parking lot of the apartment complex and asked to speak with him. The man turned and ran, bolting up an exterior staircase where he turned, pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officers.

"For some reason, it didn't go off," said Urquhart.

The man then turned and ran again, with the detectives in close pursuit.

"They caught up to him after a relatively short distance, whereupon this individual turned again, presented the gun and was shot by the detectives," Urquhart said.

Police have since detained two other men, one at a bus stop near the apartment complex and another in Federal Way. The men may have ties to the wounded man and the apartment, the source said.

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The King County Prosecutor's Office is in the process of obtaining a search warrant for the car and the man's apartment.

The person who tipped police to the car said the man had only recently covered it and had been acting bizarrely, according to a law enforcement source.

Monfort didn't do well the first time he attended Highline Community College. He later returned to the Des Moines school "and caught fire academically" when he enrolled in the Administration of Justice program, said Monfort's former academic adviser, Garry Wegner.

"He did very, very well interacting with the other students in my class," said Wegner, who spent 20 years as the deputy director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, the organization that trains many of the state's law enforcement officers.

"He always seemed to be a natural leader and people would gravitate to him," Wegner said. "He put in a lot of work and did well academically. He said it was because he finally found something that interested him — the field of criminal justice."

Monfort went on to earn a Bachelor's of Arts degree from the University of Washington and planned to attend law school, said Wegner.

"I think he thought it was a position for anyone who wanted to be a catalyst for change," Wegner said of his former student.

Montfort also spent time in California in the late 1990s. Rosemary Stevens of Pasadena, Calif., said she rented a room to Monfort "about 12 years ago, maybe longer."

Although he lived in her home for a year, Stevens said, "I didn't know him well. He was not outgoing."

Stevens remembered that Monfort was working as a waiter at the time, but said he wanted to be a police officer and owned a motorcycle.

During the year Monfort lived with her, Stevens said, he never had any visitors.

The shooting happened just as the memorial service for Brenton was ending at Seattle's KeyArena. Many of the officers who attended the memorial immediately left when they got word of the shooting, some rushing to Tukwila.

Diaz, who was still at KeyArena, said he had briefed Brenton's family about the shooting. He described them as "hopeful."

An 83-year-old resident of the apartment complex across the street said she had just finished watching a television show and was about to begin a game of solitaire when she saw police cars converging on the suspect's building.

"Everything was in progress," said the woman, who would not give her name. She waited for things to slow down a bit, then took out a pot of coffee for firefighters and police. "They're going to be here a very long time," she said.

She described the local apartment complexes as very quiet, and filled with low-income residents.

Police had been looking for the Datsun 210 coupe that had driven by Brenton and officer Britt Sweeney's patrol car at 9:46 p.m. Saturday while they were on a traffic stop. An image of the vehicle was captured by the cruiser's dash camera.

Twenty minutes later, while the officers were parked at 29th Avenue and East Yesler Way, a car drove alongside and unleashed a fusillade of rifle fire into the patrol car. Brenton was killed instantly and Sweeney, who sensed danger and ducked, was grazed. She managed to called for help, scramble from the car and return fire as the car drove away.

A profile of the suspect, derived partly from evidence the department won't discuss, suggests an angry and aggrieved gunman who likely acted alone or as part of a small group.

Detectives have said they are examining a possible connection between the attack and the Oct. 22 firebombings of three Seattle police cruisers and a mobile command post at a nearby city garage. At the arson scene, investigators found a note threatening to kill officers and fliers protesting police brutality.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-82946 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Seattle Times staff reporter Nancy Bartley contributed to this report

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