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Tim Brenton

On October 31, 2009, just after ten o’clock in the evening, I received the call that no detective wanted to receive. An officer had been shot and killed in Seattle.
The call was more personal because that night, I had a son working patrol in the same part of the city that the officer had been shot. I didn’t know who the victim officer was.
A call from my son as I left my house let me know that I was lucky that night. It wasn’t him, though he was on the scene.
There was added burden to the call. My partner, Jason Kasner and I were next-up. That meant that the responsibility to find the fucker who did this was ours.
I arrived at the scene amid a cacophony of sights and sounds. Dozens of patrol cars were at the scene; probably forty more scoured the area for the shooter. Helicopters buzzed overhead, and the stunned faces of officers, some I knew, but most I didn’t, were the norm.
I approached one of the many officers I didn’t know that night.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Tim Brenton,” he said.
I didn’t know Tim, but I most certainly had crossed paths with him in the past at another homicide scene.
“Is he related to Boyd Brenton?” I asked.
“It’s his son.”
Boyd Brenton had been an older officer I worked around in the Georgetown Precinct many years before. I didn’t know him well but went on many calls with him before his transfer to the Narcotics Section.
He hadn’t been as lucky as I had that night.
I was the first detective to arrive. A Seattle Police patrol car was parked on a residential street off East Yesler Way. A yellow police blanket covered the passenger side of the vehicle. There was yellow crime scene tape surrounding the car and the area around it.
I ducked under the tape. As I did, all the noise and confusion I had been in a moment before disappeared. It was eerily quiet.
I looked in the driver’s window of the car and saw the dead body of Officer Timothy Q. Brenton. There were two vente Starbucks cups in the cupholders between the driver and passenger seats. They were spattered with blood.
I asked who the driver of the car had been.
“He had a student officer,” I was told. An officer who had recently graduated from the police academy and was in field training; assigned to a field-training officer who trained and evaluated them in the real world.
She was in the back of a nearby medic unit.
I went there and got in. She was obviously shaken. She had been grazed by bullets fired from a car that had pulled alongside their patrol car. After the shooting, she got out and returned fire. She didn’t know if she’d struck the vehicle the suspect was in.
She had, we later determined.
What followed were six days of eighteen-to-twenty-hour workdays until a tip led us to the shooter, an odd duck with no criminal history but a hatred for the police, back before it was the norm.
I asked detectives in my office to go to his Tukwila apartment to sit on it while I wrote a warrant. Once there, the suspect confronted them, tried to shoot one of them, and was himself shot in the return of gunfire.
He survived, though he became a paraplegic.
Five years of trial preparation and nearly eight months of trial resulted in a conviction.
Shortly after he arrived in prison, he was found dead in his cell—an apparent suicide by overdose.
Halloween will never be the same for me.

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