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Driver knocks over memorial sign for fallen Tacoma officer, brandishes gun at witnesses

A suspected drunk driver allegedly crashed into a sign memorializing a fallen Tacoma police officer, dragged it for several blocks and brandished a gun at witnesses who checked on the man’s welfare.

The witnesses called police and the driver was arrested, police said.

Callers reported that a vehicle had run down a sign pole at South 54th and South Alaska streets Sunday night. When others checked to see if the driver was injured, the man driver allegedly pulled out a handgun.

He drove another seven blocks before stopping at South 54th and J streets in an attempt to dislodge the sign.

When Tacoma Fire Department personnel arrived, they distracted the man until one of them could grab the gun from the driver’s console, Tacoma police spokesperson Wendy Haddow said Tuesday.

The memorial sign, attached to the back of a yield sign, is in remembrance of Tacoma police officer Jim Lewis who was killed on South Alaska Street on April 27, 2004 while he responding as backup to a potentially dangerous vehicle stop. A driver, unaware of his movement, turned in front of him as he was speeding toward the scene on his motorcycle.

Lewis, 45, was a 19-year veteran of the force. About 3,000 uniformed officers, friends, family members, city leaders and others gathered at the Tacoma Dome for his memorial service on May 5, 2004.

The 47-year-old suspect in Sunday’s incident was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and intimidation with a weapon, Haddow said.