3 Arrested After Chase That Took the Life of Police Officer
All three suspects involved in a chase that cost the life of a Kent, Washington, police officer have been arrested.
Two of the three suspects who escaped from police in the early hours of Sunday, July 22, were arrested later that day, Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla told CBS News.
One of the passengers was arrested after the fleeing truck crashed into a barrier and stopped. Kent police used information volunteered by that suspect to track down and apprehend the remaining two suspects.
— Hana Kim (@hanamkim) July 23, 2018
Police were chasing the three after reports of shooting by multiple gunmen at a restaurant in a Seattle suburb just before 2 a.m.
The driver was 16 years old, and the two passengers 15 and 17, Fox News reported.
One Officer Killed, One Severely Injured
During the pursuit, an officer lost his life when a police car hit him while he was laying spike strips.
Officer Diego Moreno, an eight-year veteran of the Kent force, was laying down spike strips to stop the truck carrying three fleeing shooting suspects.
“Law enforcement isn’t cut and dry,” Padilla told CBS News. “Good people doing their absolute best to serve their communities sometimes fall upon tragedy.”
“Make no question about this, were it not for the actions of this suspect or suspects, this officer would be alive today. It’s directly because of the suspect or suspects’ actions that led to the officer’s death,” Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said at a news conference.
The incident began when officers patrolling the neighborhood heard shots at Shari’s Restaurant around 2 a.m. on July 22. Multiple shooters were involved, according to Fox News. Kent police officers saw three suspects leaving the parking lot in a red pickup truck and gave chase.
Moreno was laying spike strips on Kent-Des Moines Road when the two vehicles roared by.
The suspects’ truck drove over the spike strip but did not stop. The pursuing police cruiser stuck Moreno, fatally injuring him.
Our condolences to the family and colleagues of @kentpd Officer Diego Moreno, who was struck and killed while deploying spike strikes during a vehicle pursuit on Sunday. #LODD pic.twitter.com/89t5x8oKEn
— COPS Office (@COPSOffice) July 23, 2018
The pursuing police car struck an SUV, sending it spinning into two other vehicles. The officer in the pursuing patrol car suffered severe leg injuries and was hospitalized in critical condition, but had improved to satisfactory condition by Sunday night, Fox reported.
The officer driving that car was an 18-year veteran of the force.
The suspects’ pickup suffered a puncture from the spike strip but was able to travel on another mile before the driver lost control, slammed into a barrier and flipped upside down.
A Much-Beloved Hero
Moreno, a native of Venezuela, had made a big impression on his fellow officers and his community in his eight years of service with the Kent police.
In his tenure with the Kent force, Moreno had touched lives throughout the community.
.@KentPD: Fallen Kent officer #DiegoMoreno was a lifesaver.
July 17th, 2012 (Saved an 8 year old found floating in a pool)
August 16th, 2016 (Rescued a woman from an apt. fire)
June 20th 2017 (Revived an overdose victim with Naloxone)#RIP #ThreeTeensArrested pic.twitter.com/xhiA0TQ0Pa
— Lori Matsukawa (@LoriMatsukawa) July 24, 2018
In 2016, he received praise for bravely rescuing an elderly woman from a fire.
In 2017, the city of Kent awarded Moreno the Lifesaving Medal for administering naloxone to an opioid overdose victim, effectively bringing that person back from death.
In 2012, Moreno rescued and revived an 8-year-old child he found floating in a pool.
Not all of his heroism was that dramatic. One resident told ANC News that Moreno had regularly dropped in to talk to her teenage son while he was suffering mental issues, helping keep the teen grounded with simple friendship and wise counsel.
Residents have created an impromptu shrine to Moreno outside the Kent police station, leaving flowers, cards, candles, and prayers for the fallen officer and his compatriots who have to carry on in the face of this loss.
“Normally you hear the bad things about police—you don’t hear the great things,” said a tearful Maureen Dunn as she added a bouquet of flowers from her garden to the growing collection outside the station’s front door.
“They saved lives last night, getting these persons,” she told ABC News. “No one praises them for that.”
Moreno is survived by his wife and two young sons.
Many of you have asked what you can do to support and help us during this difficult time. We are holding a vigil to honor Officer Moreno's life on Wednesday, 7/25, 7pm at Town Square Plaza. Please consider being there with us. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. https://t.co/6lT8xlFsaA
— Kent Police (@kentpd) July 23, 2018
A vigil will be held Wednesday, July 25 at 7 p.m. at Town Square Plaza in Kent. A memorial service will be held July 31 at 1 p.m. at the ShoWare Center at 625 W James St.
Donations to support Officer Moreno's family can now be made at any US Bank location under the "Diego Moreno Memorial Fund".
— Kent Police (@kentpd) July 24, 2018
Also, a fund has been set up to help the Moreno family. People can make donations to the Diego Moreno Memorial Fund at any US Bank location.