Police officer’s murder: “Vehicle of interest” images & a “profile”

(added 4:34 pm – car at left is the “vehicle of interest” police are seeking)
4:25 PM: Update to the photo we published earlier, showing a car similar to the one police think might be connected to Saturday night’s murder of Officer Tim Brenton – SPDBlotter now has details on the “profile” of who they are looking for, as well as images of the actual “vehicle of interest.” We’ll pull those out in a moment but right now, go here to see them. 4:36 PM: To help this get as wide exposure as possible, here’s the entire text of what’s on SPDBlotter:

While I cannot discuss all of our current investigation details and methods, please know that we are working with local, state and federal agencies to process all of the forensic evidence. There is no technology or resource that is not or will not be fully exploited in order to identify the individual (or individuals) responsible for this crime. As we continue in our efforts, we are calling for the assistance of the public to help us identify this subject or this group. We believe this subject engaged in recognizable behaviors and activities prior to, during and after the commission of this crime. He likely possesses certain traits and characteristics that would be noted by those around him.

His skills in weapons use and close quarter techniques suggest prior training. He has likely practiced a great deal with weapons and those around him will note his abilities and interest in them. These skills may have been developed through previous employment or hobbies. In the days and weeks prior to the shooting, he may have increased his practice with weapons.

After the shooting, he may have disposed of, altered, hidden or repaired his vehicle in some form. This vehicle may have been damaged in the firefight. It is described as a 1980 to 1983 Datsun 210. It is important that if anyone has recently sold a vehicle of this type or had one stolen that they call Seattle Police at 206 233-5000.

After the homicide, he may have displayed uncharacteristic behavior, such as being silent and quiet about the shooting when others would have expected him to be outspoken about it. He may also display an uncharacteristic interest or even fascination in the news of the shooting. Regardless, the stress of this homicide may cause him to behave differently from his norm.

On Halloween night, October 31st, he was notably absent for a period of time, in the hours before midnight. If there are others who are a part of his life and aware of his routine, and this includes relatives, co-workers, friends or others, he will have had to provide a plausible explanation for this absence to them.

He likely has experienced a significant personal crisis in the recent past. This event may have been the death of a loved one, loss of job or status, divorce, financial hardship, or other failure. Whatever it is that is bothering him, he may often be outspoken about what he perceives to be a deeply personal grievance. We’d like to know what this grievance is. His grievance may relate to his employment or position in life. We do believe that although he shot a police officer, he may in fact admire them and even act like them.

He knows that there are very good officers, and Officer Tim Brenton was a very good officer who swore a solemn oath to protect our citizenry. We’d like to know why this person chose the Seattle Police Department as the target of his grievance.

While it may appear we are focusing on a sole male offender, we have not ruled out the possibility of this crime being committed by a small group. What I have been describing is the likely personality and behavior of the dominant individual behind this plan that has turned into a serious crime. In fact, there may be others involved in the planning or actual attack who may not have expected this incident to have become the murder of a good and innocent police officer. If there is such an individual he or she may be in fear for their own safety. We are willing to listen and help, if such an individual wishes to contact us about the killer.

Clearly, we are also willing to listen to the offender to better understand his grievance.

We ask the public to carefully consider the information provided above and consider whether or not they may know this offender or have noted behaviors or activities suggestive of involvement in this incident. Please contact the Police Department if you feel you may have information related to this crime, no matter how insignificant it may appear to you. You may contact us by the following ways: 206-233-5000, anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 206-343-2020 or through a text message by texting TIP486 with a message, then sending that to 274637 (CRIMES).

We also remind the public of the $105,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this investigation.

Below are images of the 1980 to 1983 Datsun 210. The color appears to be white or beige. These images were captured by Seattle Police Department in-car cameras of officers responding to Officer Sweeney’s call for help. The images were captured in the vicinity of the murder.

23 Replies to "Police officer's murder: "Vehicle of interest" images & a "profile""

  • onceachef November 5, 2009 (4:40 pm)

    The car also has an old Toyota Celica look to it and maybe even an older Saab?

  • WSB November 5, 2009 (4:46 pm)

    They seem very certain it’s an early ’80s Datsun, as described in the police statement above … TR

  • onceachef November 5, 2009 (4:56 pm)

    Yeah, I was just throwin’ it out there. Like I said in another post there can’t be many 80s-ish Datsun B210’s out there anymore. If it is that exact car they’ll get this person(s) soon!

  • JayDee November 5, 2009 (6:03 pm)

    I concur with onceachef that I thought “Celica” when I saw the car. I’ve compared images, and there is a little “re-entrant” at the rear of the B210 glass that does resemble the vehicle of interest.

    I also concur that this car is so rare that the car should be quickly found. SPD might want to have someone locate the relevant pictures of the car to refresh aging boomer’s memories of what they are looking at. Saying B210 made me think of the hideous “Honeybee” we drove in Drivers Ed class, not this slightly later “hatchback” model.

    That or release a higher quality “enhanced” picture if possible–The video image is too small to improve it much by simple magnification. My two cents.

  • onceachef November 5, 2009 (6:42 pm)

    I believe the training officer also mentioned a “late model Toyota”…given that she was under tremendous stress at the time that obviously could be wrong…I had a friend (in L.A, circa 1982) that had a Celica and this photo just struck me as being that same type of car/shape (but a different color)…it was a very popular car at the time. I just hope they catch him/them soon.

  • TK November 5, 2009 (6:48 pm)

    I FLIPPED OUT when I saw this picture as I remember seeing a car that looked very similar to this car parked on Admiral Hill w/in the last few weeks. It stands out in my memory because it looked a lot like my grandmother’s car when I was a young child. She drove a Datsun 260? Anyhow I am 100% positive the car I saw was white. Does anybody else remember seeing a car like this on the hill?

  • onceachef November 5, 2009 (7:42 pm)

    You should contact the police about it.

  • WSB November 5, 2009 (7:44 pm)

    Absolutely DO call the police. I have already heard from someone in e-mail who thought they’d seen a similar car – they called and got a call back from a detective. Police stress you can be anonymous, so if that has you concerned, don’t let it stop you from calling in – TR

  • bl@ster November 5, 2009 (7:55 pm)

    If only the police cruisers had HD cameras so they could make out the license plate # from the dash cam. Invasion of privacy? Maybe, but I really want them to catch this scumbag.

  • TK November 5, 2009 (8:05 pm)

    I did it the REALLY easy way and sent a text message.

    Also, I enhanced and resized the photos by 600%. I’m a graphic designer and have a special resizing utility. Anyhow, check them out in the link. It’s super creepy as it looks like you can see the face and a gun out the window on the second image. What do you think? http://www.jetscapes.com/images/copkiller/index.html

  • TK November 5, 2009 (8:07 pm)

    OK, sorry if this a repeat post. Not sure what just happened to my last post.

    I resized the photos by 600% and enhanced them. Look closely at the second image, does that look like a face and a rifle out the window? Here’s the link…

    BTW, I did call in the Admiral Hill tip.

  • clarification November 5, 2009 (8:10 pm)

    Just to be clear the police directive on their site it says Datsun 210 – not B210 which matters. The police have already figured out the make and deciphered the difference. So be on the look out for a Datsun 210.

    I drove a 70 something B210 in high school in the mid to late 80s. And I believe the 210 has a boxier front and is a bit bigger in front than the B210 – although it would take some research online to prove.

    Also how creepy is that shot w/the car coming towards them? It looks like he is wearing a ‘Jason’ mask – or some sort of mask. I wonder if its just lights or something. Which they could obviously easily get away with on Halloween. Probably the reason they chose that night.

  • West Seattle November 5, 2009 (8:30 pm)

    Hmmmmm….may not be gang bangers afterall, what self respecting gang banger would be seen in that?

  • ws November 5, 2009 (8:34 pm)

    What is sad is that they escaped in that junk – they never could have out run the police in a pursuit.

  • Mike November 5, 2009 (8:38 pm)

    It may surprise many people but the old Datsuns are a hot car to modify, mostly the 510 with independent rear suspension, but the 210 can use many of the same parts and some people do crazy old Z car engine swaps into them.

    They are not really that rare, we just live in areas where we see newer cars most of the time.

  • Shane November 5, 2009 (10:10 pm)

    TR, or anyone else who might know, in the upper right of those pix is L M1M2. Is that the cars call sign(are all those pix from the same dash cam)? Does it appear as though that officer passed the suspect car 3 times? Creepy like the shooter was stalking the neighborhood……….

  • WhyWestwood November 5, 2009 (10:59 pm)

    Well I just found this white b210 in seattle http://www.sciretti.it/uploaded_images/datsun-b210-714967.jpg with washington plates. hmmmm

  • Shell November 5, 2009 (11:26 pm)

    Shane: I googled the “L M1M2” and it comes up many times on the topic of picture resolution on cameras.

  • cjboffoli November 5, 2009 (11:44 pm)

    bl@ster: My guess is that HD video file sizes are way to be to be practical to shoot continually during an average officer’s shift. They would need a huge hard drive in the trunk of each cruiser.

  • WSB November 5, 2009 (11:50 pm)

    WW, please call that to police’s attention …
    Shane and Shell, I am not sure about the M-etc. but I can tell you that wasn’t the call sign of the officers who were ambushed — they were George (G) units … just like as you probably know here in WS we have W (William) and F (Frank) units – there are M (Mary) units somewhere in the city, I recall hearing on the scanner, though … TR

  • WhyWestwood November 6, 2009 (12:10 am)

    Wsb: I just texted it to the tip line.

  • WSB November 6, 2009 (12:27 am)

    Thanks. You just never know. Now that they’ve gone public with more information about the car, we can only hope the killer/s is/are running out of places to run – TR

  • shane November 6, 2009 (6:38 am)

    I heard on the radio(dont remember the exact source, your mileage may vary) that there were 115 b210s registered in WA. I’m guessing most of those are on the radar so to speak. Im glad those pix dont appear to have come from the same dash cam, the thought of that guy stalking cops just outraged me more

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