Suspect in officer's shooting described as 'smart, mature'

TUKWILA, Wash. - A man shot by detectives after he was identified as a suspect in the deadly shooting of a Seattle police officer on Halloween night is 41-year-old man Christopher J. Monfort, police said.

Tukwila police spokesman Mike Murphy said investigators were following up on leads on the officer's murder at a Tukwila apartment complex when the man flashed a handgun at them and was shot by three Seattle detectives.

The suspect was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition, and immediately went into surgery. His condition was upgraded to serious on Saturday morning.

Seattle Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel later said the suspect is Christopher J. Monfort. He is a former student at Highline Community College and the University of Washington who was described by former teachers and friends as "mature" and "smart."

He has no criminal record in Washington - aside from two traffic tickets - but he may have been recently laid off from a job as a security guard or private investigator, a Seattle police source familiar with the investigation said.

Records show a man by the name of Christopher Monfort lives in the apartment complex, in 14300 block of 56th Ave. South, where the suspect was shot.

Investigators also suspect Monfort of involvement in the Oct. 22 arson of four police vehicles, three police cruisers and one mobile command vehicle, Pugel said.

Police said a tip from a citizen involving a tarp-covered car parked outside the apartment led them to the location. The tip came a day after authorities released three photos of a Datsun 210 believed to be connected to the shooting of Seattle Police Officer Tim Brenton and wounding of his partner, Britt Sweeney. Tukwila detectives also responded.

Tukwila Officer Mike Murphy said Seattle homicide detectives were at his Tukwila apartment complex since Friday morning. They approached him at about 3 p.m., just as a memorial service for Officer Brenton at Seattle's KeyArena was ending.

When three detectives confronted Monfort, he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at police, Murphy said.

"They just knew they were trying to talk to him, he fled, they tried to catch him. And when he produced a weapon, that's when it became a whole different situation. They had to fire to protect themselves," Murphy said.

William Hart, an eyewitness who watched the suspect's capture from his living room at the apartment complex, said he believes police boxed in Monfort in a stairwell, where he was shot.

"All of a sudden four more officers pull up right behind them in the street behind me," Hart said. "And a couple of them got out with shotguns and rifles."

Monfort was then taken away on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

In November 2003 Monfort ran for student government at Highline Community College, according to the student paper, The Thunderword.

Monfort was running to "make the student body more aware of the civil liberties lost under the Patriot Act," the article said. "If elected, his first priority is to help people become active citizens instead of just bystanders."

Garry Wegner, Monfort's student adviser during his time at Highline, described him as "a mature, stable, fun guy to be around. ... He was very smart," Wegner said.

In 2007, he attended the University of Washington and studied law enforcement. While there he wrote a paper about how to "change the inequity of the criminal justice system."

Rosemary Stevens, Monfort's former landlady when he lived in Southern California 18 years ago, said she believed he applied for a job with the Los Angeles Police Department at the time, but he was never hired.

With information from KOMO News media partner SEATTLEPI.COM.

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