KENT, Wash. – Three teenage suspects are now in custody in connection with a police chase that led to a suburban Seattle officer being struck and killed by a pursuing officer in a patrol car.
Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said at a news conference Monday that a passenger in the suspect vehicle was arrested with the help of a police dog after the incident early Sunday that killed Officer Diego Moreno. Two other suspects, including the 16-year-old driver, have since been arrested, he said.
The chase began around 2 a.m. Sunday after a red truck was seen leaving a restaurant parking lot where gunshots were fired, according to Padilla.
Moreno had deployed spike strips at an intersection Sunday to slow the suspect vehicle, police said. He was on foot when he was struck by the patrol car that had been pursuing the suspects. Authorities haven't said what specifically led to that collision. Washington State Patrol District Commander Ron Mead on Sunday blamed the suspect for Moreno's death.
The fleeing suspect's truck landed on a spike but continued on for another mile before striking a barrier and coming to rest on its hood.
The patrol car also ran into an SUV that spun into two other vehicles. Padilla said three bystanders were provided medical care and that they were all doing OK. The officer driving the patrol car was hospitalized in critical condition but had improved by Sunday night. He remained in a Seattle hospital Monday with serious injuries, Padilla said. That officer has been with the department for 18 years and is one of their best, Padilla said. Police said they would release his name at a later time.
Padilla said Moreno made significant contributions during his eight years on the force, and described him as an "incredible human being."
The Venezuela native was honored last year by the city with a Lifesaving Medal for saving someone from an opioid overdose. In 2016, he was praised for rescuing an elderly woman from a fire.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said Moreno's efforts went above and beyond in the department's Shop with a Cop holiday event. Ralph said last year Moreno pulled out his own wallet to cover extra costs for the things a child wanted.
"That was the type of person he was, the public servant he was," Ralph said. "He leaves a huge hole in our hearts."
Moreno is survived by a wife and two young children.
Community members added Monday to a memorial of flowers, candles, drawings and other items outside the Kent Police Station.
A vigil will take place Wednesday evening at Kent Town Square.