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8 Federal Way cops return to duty after apartment shooting

Sylvia Valdovinos, mother of shooting victim Ceasar Valdovinos, attended Wednesday
Sylvia Valdovinos, mother of shooting victim Ceasar Valdovinos, attended Wednesday's community meeting at City Hall.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

Eight police officers were cleared to return to work almost three weeks after they brought down a gunman at Pinewood Village Apartments in Federal Way.

In the first city council meeting since the fatal April 21 shooting rampage that left five dead, Mayor Skip Priest shared his thoughts on the response to the violent shootout that shocked Federal Way.

“The measure of a community is not found in the occurrence of a tragedy such as this, but how the community responds to tragedy,” Priest said. “I am proud to say the community of Federal Way has responded with compassion for the victims, with professionalism and with resolve to heal and continue moving forward as a community.”

The shooter in the incident, Dennis Clark III, was shot dead by the Federal Way Police Department the night of the incident. Eight officers discharged their weapons, and were placed on administrative leave, a routine procedure. The officers were cleared to return to duty this week. The Auburn Police Department investigated the case.

The apartments are located off Pacific Highway along South 333rd Street. The killings began April 21, when Clark fatally shot his girlfriend, Justine Baez, in the midst of an argument. Clark then killed 23-year-old Ceasar A. Valdovinos, 47-year-old Bradley Fischer, and 62-year-old Roland L. Scobee. It’s believed Clark killed them in an attempt to eliminate witnesses to his killing of Baez.

Clark’s rampage is believed to be the most violent incident in the history of Federal Way.

Two weapons were found at the scene: a .40-caliber Taurus semi-automatic pistol, and a pistol-grip Mossberg 500 pump shotgun with a four-round saddle.

In the aftermath, the public learned about Clark’s past run-ins with police over weapons and domestic violence calls. Clark was legally licensed to carry the firearms and had no criminal history.

The police department hosted a community meeting April 24 at City Hall, in which the department and elected leaders offered condolences and recapped the investigation up to that point. The second half of the meeting was intended to counsel residents of the Pinewood Village Apartments and others who were directly affected by the incident. These residents were able to talk with officers and local clergy, which included Pastor Jon McIntosh of Grace Church, Pastor Casey Treat of the Christian Faith Center, and Pastor Chuck Meyer.

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For more details on the victims and the April 21 incident, click here.

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