Grieving family, friends and co-workers of a slain Coeur d’Alene police officer are preparing for his funeral Saturday, while new details emerged Wednesday about the early morning encounter that left Sgt. Greg Moore gravely wounded.
The shooting was captured by Moore’s body camera, and the Rathdrum man who is expected to face a murder charge in Moore’s death said in a police interview he shot the officer fearing Moore would find the gun in his pocket.
Jonathan Daniel Renfro, a 26-year-old felon who was on parole and could not legally possess firearms, pulled out his 9 mm Glock pistol and shot Moore on a residential street about 1:20 a.m. Tuesday, court documents allege. He then stole the officer’s gun, ammunition and patrol car, investigators say.
Moore, who served 16 years with the department, died that evening at Kootenai Health from a gunshot wound to the head. Escorted by a dozen police cars and motorcycles, his body was transported Wednesday morning to Providence Holy Family Hospital in Spokane for an autopsy.
Moore is the first Coeur d’Alene police officer to be killed in the line of duty, and the first peace officer killed in Kootenai County since the 1998 slaying of a state trooper.
Renfro was charged Tuesday with five felonies, including attempted murder – a charge that is expected to be amended today to murder. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty.
He is being held at the Kootenai County Jail on $2 million bail – an amount his court-appointed attorney says is excessive and should be reduced.
Officials were tight-lipped Wednesday about the investigation, but court documents provided a fuller account of Tuesday’s events. Investigators also retrieved Moore’s body camera footage, which captured video and audio of his encounter with Renfro.
The officer was patrolling in northwest Coeur d’Alene when he saw a man walking along West Wilbur Avenue at the intersection of West Timberlake Loop, according to a probable cause affidavit that summarizes Renfro’s interview with investigators.
Moore stopped his car, spoke with Renfro and called police dispatch to run a check on the man’s identification. Renfro was on parole. He had been released from prison last July after serving more than five years for grand theft and assault and battery on a prison guard. Moore asked Renfro to step over to his patrol car.
“At that point Renfro is observed shooting Sgt. Moore,” Idaho State Police Senior Detective Michael Van Leuven said in the affidavit. “After being shot, Sgt. Moore falls to the ground, causing his body camera to point skyward. A short time later Renfro’s face comes back into frame. Renfro is seen using a flashlight while searching Sgt. Moore’s person.”
Cindy Allen and Chris Werts, who were inside a nearby home, heard the gunshot and stepped outside to see what was happening. They saw the police car parked in the middle of the street and a man standing over a figure on the ground, investigators said.
“Werts said he yelled at the standing subject, who then got into the patrol vehicle and left the area at a high rate of speed traveling eastbound on Wilbur Avenue,” Van Leuven wrote.
Allen called 911 about 1:34 a.m. to report what they saw.
The body camera footage also shows Renfro stepping away from Moore, then “a car door can be heard shutting and a vehicle driving away,” the affidavit states.
A police dispatcher repeatedly had been trying to reach Moore by his call number: “K27, Central, your status?” There was no response, according to a record of the radio traffic.
The first officer responding to the scene called in the grim situation: “We’ve got bleeding to the head. His car is gone.”
Renfro admitted in the police interview that he took Moore’s sidearm from its holster after he had shot the officer, and also took two pistol magazines and a flashlight off Moore.
He also admitted he stole the patrol car to flee the scene and abandoned it in Post Falls “because he believed law enforcement was tracking it using an on-board GPS tracking system,” Van Leuven wrote in the affidavit.
Police said Renfro raced past a Post Falls police officer heading west on West Seltice Way at 1:43 a.m., triggering a high-speed pursuit and then a foot search that ended with the suspect’s apprehension near a Wal-Mart store. The stolen police car was found abandoned at Pointe Parkway and Beck Road.
Police using a K-9 unit found Renfro hiding under a semitrailer. He had 9 mm bullets in his pocket, investigators said, and Moore’s service pistol was found near the suspect. A second 9 mm pistol was found in a nearby field along with Moore’s flashlight and Renfro’s eyeglasses, the affidavit states.
Renfro, who has a criminal history spanning more than a decade, also admitted to police that he had used hydrocodone and methamphetamine the day before allegedly shooting Moore.
He was booked into jail and later charged with attempted murder, stealing a police car, stealing a police gun, being a convict in possession of a gun, and removing a gun from an officer acting in his official capacity.
The Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office was preparing Wednesday to amend the charges.
Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams asked the court to lower the bond amount “on the grounds that it is excessive,” according to a motion filed Wednesday.
Adams also asked the court for a gag order, barring attorneys, investigators, police and other parties in the case from discussing it with the news media.
“As this court is aware, this case involves matters that in and of themselves invoke the passions and inflammatory reactions of many in the public,” Adams wrote in the motion. “Law enforcement officers investigating the above entitled matter have already commented on the character, credibility, reputation and criminal record of Jonathan Renfro as well as expressed opinions on his guilt to the media at the televised press conference.”
Renfro’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 15 in 1st District Court in Kootenai County. Senior Judge O. Lynn Brower of Pocatello will preside.
Killing a police officer is one of the “aggravating circumstances” that can prompt a death penalty in Idaho in first-degree murder cases. The prosecutor’s office must notify the court of its intent to seek the death penalty within 60 days after the defendant enters a plea.
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