'Tragic situation:' Memorial growing outside Kent PD for fallen Officer Diego Moreno

KENT, Wash. – People from all over the South Sound came to pay respects to Officer Diego Moreno, leaving flowers, handwritten notes, and candles outside the Kent Police Department.

Jennifer Hanke is among the many people paying their respects to Officer Moreno and the Kent Police Department.

“I feel that they take good care of us,” said Hanke.

Patty Willis drove to Kent from Des Moines.

“Anyone who puts their lives out for us, doesn’t deserve this,” said Willis.

Just before 2 a.m Sunday, Officer Moreno was deploying spike strips on Kent Des Moines Road in an attempt to stop a fleeing truck when he was hit by a fellow officer’s police car.

“Make no question about this, if it wasn’t for those suspects, this officer would be alive today,” said Rob Mead with Washington State Patrol, who is handling the investigation.

“I just think this is one of the most tragic situations I’ve heard,” said retired police Sgt. Cindi West.

She says using spike strips in chase scenarios is dangerous.

“Basically they’re long strips with about three or four of them connected together. When you throw them out, there’s a cord attached to them, and you throw them out, you pull the cord so they’re in a straight line,” said West. She said the officer then must pull back the spike strips as soon as the suspect’s car runs over them so as not to affect other cars.

West says officers are trained and know the risks involved. “Police work is dangerous. It’s just the way it is,” said West.

Ripple effect

“There is a ripple effect to these things,” said Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor.

Pastor says his deputies have been helping Kent police patrol their community just as their officers helped them when Deputy Daniel McCartney was killed in January.

“It affects the family, it affects the coworker, it affects the department, it affects the community. And often it does that for years to come,” said Pastor.

Outside Kent police, that ripple effect is deeply felt by the people Officer Moreno served.

“His community loves him,” said Willis.

Officer Moreno leaves behind a wife and two young children.

He grew up in Venezuela and used his fluency in Spanish to help translate between officers and the community within Kent’s large Hispanic population.

One suspect involved in the pursuit Sunday morning has been taken into custody.