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On anniversary of slaying, Lakewood Four honored with food drive

Sgt. Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold and Officer Greg Richards were shot to death inside a coffee shop three years ago today. (AP Photo)

After four of his officers were shot to death inside a coffee shop in 2009, Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar wanted to honor their memory.

As the one-year anniversary of the murders approached and the mood among officers saddened, he and his wife wanted to do something to raise their spirits.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to try to do something to make this a little more positive,'” Farrar said. “She said, ‘Well, why don’t you do a food drive?'”

Farrar saw it as a way to remember their fallen friends while giving back to the community that had supported them in their darkest hour.

Three years later, the Fallen Officers Food Drive continues to be a success.

During their first year, they raised roughly 23,000 pounds of food and $15,000. In 2011, they nearly doubled those numbers. This year, the food drive has extended beyond Lakewood to jurisdictions in Snohomish and Skagit counties.

Early Thursday morning, before the sun was up, Everett Police Chief Kathy Atwood helped run a donation drop spot outside their north precinct.

“It’s a great way to mark this day,” she said. “I remember going to the memorial for the officers, and I think it is really important that we all pull together and that we do remember that tragic day and that we remember to support law enforcement.”

Everett Police Officer Aaron Snell, who helped to organize the event in Snohomish county, said they hope to participate in the food drive annually.

He said it was not only a way to remember the Lakewood Four, but to honor officers everywhere who have given their lives in the line of duty.

“We don’t want to forget,” Chief Farrar told KIRO Radio Wednesday. “So this is a way to remember, to honor, and to do something positive for the community.”

Farrar said the deaths of Sgt. Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, and Officer Greg Richards are as clear today as they were on Nov. 29, 2009.

“I think back on the things that transpired from the morning that we got that phone call,” he said. “I don’t think it gets much easier (to deal with). I think we all just kind of reflect upon Greg and Tina and Ronny and Mark and who they were and what they meant to us.”

The Fallen Officers Food Drive in Pierce County begins Thursday and runs through Dec. 7.

In Everett, donations at their north and south precincts will be accepted through 6 p.m. Thursday.

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