Seattle officer recounts Halloween shooting ambush that killed partner
05/13/2016 4:50 pm PDT
It was only Seattle Police Officer Britt Sweeney's second night of training with her partner when a car pulled up beside their cruiser and opened fire.
Seattle, Washington, October 31, 2009: Hiding among those roaming the streets in ghoulish masks is a cop-hating maniac who has zeroed in on rookie police officer Britt Sweeney and veteran partner Tim Brenton.
Britt and Tim, a 39-year-old veteran showing her the ropes, had just made a routine traffic stop and were parked on a quiet Seattle street reviewing her performance.
"I started to turn my head and I could immediately see that there was another car right up against our patrol car," said Britt.
"At that point it was a bright, bright muzzle flash," said Britt. "The smell of gunpowder, the loudest bang that I had ever experienced."
A madman was unloading his rifle into the patrol car through the driver's side window where Britt was behind the wheel.
"That immediately just caused me to turn and drop into the vehicle," said Britt. "With every shot I just kept ducking down just hoping to get out of the line of fire."
When the gunman stops shooting, Britt leaps out of the patrol car, gun drawn, firing at his car as he flees, all captured on police dash-cam video. Suddenly she realizes her partner is still in the car, and a chill runs down her spine.
"It was at the point that I actually looked into the passenger side of the vehicle that I saw that Tim was dead," said Britt.
He died from a gunshot wound to the head.
"Once I realized Tim was dead, I took cover up into a small parking lot in front of a couple cars," said Britt.
Britt is scared to death the gunman could return to kill her too.
"I really felt hunted 'cause I didn't know where this had come from, why we had been ambushed like this. Nothing made sense," said Britt. "I was down between the two cars. I still had my Glock out, scanning and scanning."
Other officers find Britt wounded and terrified.
"And one of the officers says, 'Is she OK?' and I heard him say 'She's been shot in the back,' and my first thought was, 'Oh God, I don't even feel that pain yet,'" said Britt.
Miraculously, Britt has only bullet grazes on her head and back.
"Thankfully, with the vest, it hit the vest and rifled off and went through the final layer of the vest directly on my spine," said Britt. "How it didn't get me in the back of the head is inexplicable."
But the psychological damage is crippling.
"I didn't sleep for probably 36 or more hours," said Britt. "I couldn't close my eyes. I couldn't even close my eyes for a shower. Darkness was a horrible thing for me at that point. I still believed I was being hunted. At my own home, I wouldn't walk by windows. I would crawl underneath windows."
A massive police manhunt is launched for the crazed cop-killer.
And it's during the memorial service for Officer Brenton, whose killing left two young children without a father, that David Rose, host of "Washington's Most Wanted," airing on Crime Watch Daily affiliate station KCPQ, learns police have just shot and captured the maniac who ambushed Tim and Britt.
"I was sitting with a retired Seattle police detective and all of a sudden you saw several officers get up and leave that funeral, including us," said Rose.
"I think most people were stunned at the irony that on the same day Tim was buried, that they also shot a suspect," said David Rose.
But because the cop-hating killer Christopher Monfort was left paralyzed from the waist down, it would be six years before his case went to trial.
And Britt Sweeney has to relive the horrifying ordeal in court. It's all Britt can do not to break down on the stand.
"All of a sudden everything just came rushing back and I got pretty choked up on the stand," said Britt.
"I think the biggest thing about survival in this was to have no feeling toward him. To even hate him was to give him energy. So I wasn't going to give him anything," said Britt.
Monfort is found guilty of murder, attempted murder and arson, and sentenced to life without parole
"It was odd because I didn't realize how much I didn't have closure until after everything ended, and all of the sudden it was just like, 'Oh my gosh, I can move on with life,'" said Britt.
And Britt's still on the Seattle Police force.
"If roles had been reversed and Tim had lived and I had died, Tim would go back to work, he wouldn't quit," said Britt Sweeney.
"I think the fact that Britt has gone on to have a fantastic career and to remain on the force and to keep her enthusiasm for the job is a real testament to not only who she is, but to the department that supported her," said David Rose.
"You have this choice: Are you going to let this person who doesn't even know you who you don't know, who is nothing but pure evil, are you really going to let this person change your life pattern?" said Britt.