Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Obituaries


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published December 4, 2009 at 12:09 AM | Page modified December 4, 2009 at 6:46 AM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger was devoted to family, dedicated to police work

Sgt. Mark Renninger, one of four Lakewood police officers slain Sunday, was a former Army Ranger, a nationally-known SWAT team trainer and the rock of his department — a man with such charisma and natural leadership skills that when he showed up at the scene, his fellow officers knew things were going to be all right.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Coverage from the days following the Lakewood shootings

Tuesday memorial to four officers comes together swiftly

Lakewood Officer Tina Griswold was a 'ball of fire' in a tiny package

A path to murder: The story of Maurice Clemmons

Gallery | Maurice Clemmons: Path to Murder

Officer Gregory Richards was 'the golden boy'

Officer Richards' wife knew he would do his duty, no matter what

Lakewood Police Officer Ronald Owens was always smiling

Prosecutors want Clemmons' sister held in custody

Clemmons' sister taken into custody in courtroom

Clemmons repeatedly slipped through the cracks

Bank accounts may be sign Clemmons planned getaway

Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger was devoted to family, dedicated to police work

Bail-bond agents gamble on unknown

Clemmons' sister arrested during court hearing

Repeat offenders would be denied bail under measure

Nicole Brodeur | Help is coming for aunt

Clemmons traveled to meet New York minister, citing God's instructions

Clemmons' half-brother charged with helping killer elude police

Clemmons investigated by drug enforcement authorities after he moved here in 2004

More than 20,000 people expected at Tuesday's memorial for officers

Arkansas governor and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire confer on parolees, Clemmons

Coffee shop where officers killed remains closed

Details on Tuesday memorial for four slain officers

Trusted aunt chose to do the 'right thing'

Clemmons' driver denies knowledge of plot to kill

Over 2,000 attend Lakewood vigil for 4 slain officers

Graham neighborhood embraces grieving family

Alleged accomplice used an alias

Coffee shop where officers killed remains closed

Who leaked photo of Clemmons' body? Investigations launched

Clemmons couldn't be held after 'safety net' dissolved

Calendar of memorials and vigils for slain Lakewood officers

Loyal friends, family helped Clemmons flee police

Gregoire: no more Arkansas parolees

Alleged getaway driver in officers' slaying could face murder charges

Uncle: 'He was all about money ... suddenly, he was all about God'

Routine stolen-car check led to Lakewood police-slaying suspect

Danny Westneat | Fixing blame won't fix this mess

Jerry Large | Answers more than skin deep

Public brings flowers, candles, prayers for fallen officers

E-mails show Washington state battled to keep Clemmons in custody

States at odds over warrant that might have kept Clemmons in jail

2 men charged, several others suspected of aiding alleged cop killer

Lakewood police shooting suspect shot dead by police in South Seattle early this morning

Memorial for slain officers to be next Tuesday at Tacoma Dome

Outpouring of support for families of slain officers grows

Four days in May set stage for Sunday's tragedy

Clemmons' diagnosis: stress

Persuasive appeal helped Clemmons win clemency

Political death blow for Huckabee?

How you can help

Law-enforcement officials believe Clemmons has been sheltered by family, friends

Attack on Lakewood police likely worst in state history

Slain Lakewood officers leave holes in community fabric

Furious hunt for suspect in Lakewood police slayings creates unease for black men

Grief, gratitude for slain officers

'Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom': Neighbors describe shooting of suspect

Nicole Brodeur: Breathless in Leschi — and it's not the view

RAW VIDEO: Scene where Clemmons shot by police

AUDIO | Suspect killed in Seattle

Interactive map and timeline

See the latest tweets on #WAshooting, #lakeshoot and #WAshoot

Gallery | Maurice Clemmons Killed, Community Mourns Slain Officers

Gallery | Ceda Clemmons' Damaged Home

Monday coverage

Suspect released in Arkansas after claiming he had changed

Gallery | Police search for suspected cop killer

Gallery | Lakewood police officers killed

Video | Community reflects on slain police

Video | Police shooting: Man who helped baristas

Video | SPD Det. Jeff Kappel speaks about 11-hour standoff

Brenton family statement on slain Lakewood officers

Latest on Lakewood shooting: Police searching near Dr. José Rizal Park

Police still searching for suspected cop killer

Sunday coverage

Police union sets up fund for slain officers

Former Arkansas Gov. Huckabee has controversial record of freeing criminals

Lakewood Police Department created just 5 years ago

Police again see themselves as targets

Slain officers respected for careers, family life

Lakewood police slayings appear to be worst of their kind in state history

Shocked, grieving community holds vigil for officers

Coffee house owner: Shootings 'hit close to home'

Maurice Clemmons clemency and parole documents (PDF)

Statement from Mayor Douglas Richardson and City Manager Andrew Neiditz (PDF)

City of Lakewood identifies officers (PDF)

Related links

Law justifying use of deadly force

Facebook page honoring fallen officers

NewsTribune.com | Eyewitness accounts

Video | Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer discusses Lakewood slaying

This is the first of four news obituaries on the slain Lakewood Police officers.

He was a former Army Ranger, a nationally known SWAT team trainer and the rock of his department — a man with such charisma and natural leadership skills that when he showed up at the scene, his fellow officers knew things were going to be all right.

So it seems an especially cruel irony that Lakewood Police Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, was gunned down — executed, his fellow officers say — before he got a chance to fight back.

The four Lakewood police officers who were killed Sunday "were executed because they were cops," said Lakewood Police Officer Matt Brown. "But none of them saw their lives that way."

Sgt. Renninger saw himself as a family man, Brown said. When he left the office, he left police work behind him.

The Puyallup father of three "was very, very devoted to his wife and kids," said his brother Michael, of Bethlehem, Penn.

Sgt. Renninger met his wife, Kim, after he moved to Washington. The couple had three children: Ashley, 15, Allyson, 12, and Nicholas, 3. "He always did different things to make sure his kids were having a good time," his brother said.

Michael Renninger brought his own family out to Washington for a visit with his big brother in July, and said it was one of the best family vacations he'd ever had. The families took trips to Seattle and Mount Rainier, and went to a Mariners game. They barbecued on the grill at Sgt. Renninger's handsome newer home in a Puyallup subdivision.

This week, police officers from area jurisdictions kept round-the-clock vigils at that home. Neighbors dropped flowers off at a small street-corner memorial to Sgt. Renninger, while hundreds visited a much larger memorial to all four officers in front of the Lakewood Police Department.

Michael's been told that his brother was one of two officers who were shot first by gunman Maurice Clemmons, and that he had no chance to react.

"That's what's hurting me, thinking how well he was trained and how devoted he was to the training," he said.

"This was such a cowardly act, and he had no chance."

Mark Renninger grew up in Bethlehem, Penn., the second of six children. He was a star football player at Liberty High School and, as a senior, was courted by coaches to play college football. Instead, he chose to join the Army, Michael Renninger said.

Growing up, Michael said his brother was "very funny, just great to be around." Remembering the day his big brother left for Army boot camp, Michael choked back his emotions.

"He was 18, I was 12," he said. "I was at the recruiter's station, and I remember crying because he was leaving."

In the 1990s, Sgt. Renninger was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., when he was accepted into the elite Army Rangers. Mike Sienda, who now works in Army Intelligence in Charlottesville, Va., got to know him well.

The group would parachute into a remote area, navigate through the woods at night and carry out a mission. In those exercises, Renninger shone. "Mark was a leader even when he was a junior soldier," Sienda said.

But Sgt. Renninger was also personable and well-liked by his fellow officers. "He was a great kid, always funny, cracking jokes," Sienda said. "He had a lot of friends. He was an easygoing person.

"When I think back on those times, those were some of the best times in my career because of Mark," said Sienda, who kept up with Sgt. Renninger over the years by phone and e-mail.

After Fort Benning, Sgt. Renninger moved to Fort Lewis to join the Second Ranger Battalion. When he left the Army, it was no surprise to brother Michael that he chose police work.

"He had this strong will and strong desire to be there and to help people," Michael said. "Law enforcement was his passion."

Sgt. Renninger joined the Tukwila Police Department and worked there from 1996 to 2004, and also served as president of the Tukwila police guild. "He just really had a natural skill for police work," said Tukwila Assistant Police Chief Mike Villa.

"He was very persistent in pursuing the criminals. He was also a very intelligent and smart police officer — he didn't take unnecessary risks."

Villa said Sgt. Renninger had an innate ability to make split-second decisions and worked well in a team. "I've been on many SWAT call-outs with him, and he consistently operated well in that environment," Villa said. "He was one of my top performers."

As with the other officers, Villa, too, is stunned that one of his best-trained officers, a man with a special talent for recognizing threats and a trainer who emphasized officer safety, could be gunned down in a senseless shooting.

"It's really difficult," Villa said. "Mark had a lot of friends at Tukwila. He was working in a world where we're dealing with criminals who may want to hurt us. Mark was real cognizant of that."

In 2004, he left Tukwila to join the newly formed Lakewood department. He became the leader of an interjurisdictional SWAT team, called the Metro SWAT team, made up of smaller cities around Tacoma.

"There are few people I look up to, and Mark was one of the few," said Brown, the Lakewood officer, who is also a member of the Metro SWAT team. "You knew when he showed up that things were going to be all right."

Sgt. Renninger was on the executive board of the Washington State Tactical Officers Association, a statewide law-enforcement group dedicated to SWAT team training. And he was known around the United States for his SWAT training work, said Tom Fitzgerald, the association's president and a leader on the Seattle SWAT team.

When a SWAT incident took place elsewhere in the country, Sgt. Renninger would call the officers who were involved and find out what went well and what went wrong, always looking for ways to improve SWAT tactics, said Sgt. Jeff Selleg of the Port of Seattle Police, who is also on the association's executive board.

"He had such a vast network of friends and contacts," Selleg said.

"He was tremendously dedicated to his family," he added.

In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by four brothers, Matthew, Marty, Michael and John; a sister, Melissa; and his mother, Nancy.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or klong@seattletimes.com

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Obituaries

UPDATE - 6:15 AM
This week's passages

Obituary: Douglas W. Luna, 67, passionate about the law and helping others

This week's passages

More Obituaries headlines...

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.


Get home delivery today!

Video

Advertising

AP Video

Entertainment | Top Video | World | Offbeat Video | Sci-Tech

Marketplace

Despite $263K starting price, Rolls-Royce sales soar globallynew
They are rolling symbols of wealth and excess, starting at $263,000 a pop, with most buyers choosing custom options that can easily double that price....
Post a comment

Advertising