Monfort charged in 'one-man war' against Seattle police force
The man suspected of shooting Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton to death in cold blood will be charged with aggravated first-degree murder, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said Thursday.
The suspect, Christopher Monfort of Tukwila, also will be charged with three other counts of attempted first-degree murder and one charge of first-degree arson stemming from an Oct. 22 firebombing, Satterberg said.
If convicted of the charges, Monfort would face a minimum sentence of life in prison. Satterberg said prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against Monfort.
Satterburg accused Monfort of planning and executing a "one-man war against the Seattle Police Department."
"There is no greater crime in my view than the murder of a police officer," Satterberg added.
"We've never seen anything like this," Satterberg said. "This case is unique in that Monfort planned to confront police and kill as many officers as he could."
The charges were announced at a Thursday morning news conference at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle.
Satterberg said three counts of attempted first-degree murder will be filed - one for shots fired at rookie officer Sweeney, one for an attempt to kill officers during an Oct. 22 arson, and one for attempts to shoot police during his arrest.
Monfort is accused of killing Officer Timothy Brenton and wounding rookie officer Britt Sweeney Oct. 31 as they sat in a patrol car following a traffic stop. Sweeney was grazed in the neck.
Monfort was shot Friday as police confronted him at his apartment in suburban Tukwila. He ran from the arresting sergeant and two other homicide detectives, then produced a handgun, which clicked but didn't fire when he pulled the trigger, Satterberg said. The gun was loaded, but Monfort had neglected to put a round in the chamber, Satterberg said.
"This oversight saved the life of the police officer, who was only a few feet away," he said.
Monfort remains in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center with gunshot wounds to the cheek and stomach, and is expected to recover.
Satterberg said DNA evidence found at the scene of Officer Brenton's shooting and an Oct. 22 arson at a police maintenance yard were a match to Monfort. The DNA was found on identical American flag bandannas dropped at both scenes as "calling cards," he said.
In addition, a rifle found in Monfort's apartment is an identical ballistic match to the weapon used to kill Brenton and wound his partner, Britt Sweeney, on Halloween night.
Satterberg accused Monfort of placing bombs at the scene of the Oct. 22 arson that were designed to explode and kill police, firefighters and medics who arrived to battle a blaze that destroyed a large command vehicle. The bombs were placed under two parked patrol cars.
Inside Monfort's apartment, police said they found a terrifying arsenal: three rifles, including the one used to kill Brenton, and a pistol-grip shotgun, as well as several bombs consisting of propane bottles wrapped with duct tape, nails protruding. Some had very short fuses, indicating Monfort could light them and throw them at police, and another had a fuse sitting on the heating element of his kitchen stove, authorities said.
Stacks of automobile tires in the apartment could have provided a bunker in a shootout.
No clear motive has emerged, but Satterberg said that Monfort left fliers discussing police brutality when the police vehicles were bombed at a maintenance yard Oct. 22, some of which referred to "these deaths" - as though the bombing was expected to kill officers.
A fire in a mobile command center at the yard was set first, and bombs underneath cruisers went off nine minutes later, as police and emergency officers responded.
Stuck through the roof of one cruiser in the yard was a large hunting knife, a small American flag attached to the handle. Police have said the flag bore Monfort's DNA, as did an American flag bandanna left behind when Brenton was killed.
Monfort studied criminal justice at Highline Community College and the University of Washington, and police believe he had recently been fired from a job as a security guard.
Monfort's arraignment is set for Nov. 24, but will be delayed if he remains in the hospital.
Satterberg said Monfort had no accomplices.
"Monfort acted alone in his own personal war against the police - to inflict as many casualties as possible," Satterberg said.