The Washington State Patrol crime lab went into overdrive after the fatal shooting of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton on Oct. 31. Priority status was given to the case because it represented a potential aggravated murder case with a dangerous suspect at large, not because Brenton was a police officer, James Tarver, the head of the lab, told the Seattle Times. Forensic scientists put in extra hours as they sought to help police determine who was behind the shooting and whether it was connected to the firebombing of four Seattle police vehicles at a city maintenance yard nine days earlier.
The eventual suspect, Christopher John Monfort, 41, had no criminal history and wasn’t in the state DNA database. It was a tipster who led police to Monfort last Friday. When Monfort was shot and wounded by police during a confrontation at an apartment complex, his bloody clothing allowed the lab to match his DNA to the profiles recovered at the shooting and bombing sites. In doing the forensic work, one supervisor in the lab’s DNA section worked 17 hours Saturday. Such work provides great satisfaction to the scientists, who could be making more money in other scientific fields, but work at the lab “for the greater good,” Tarver said. “We take to heart the victims of crime.”