A law enforcement officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Clinton, Missouri. A manhunt is underway to apprehend the suspect, who authorities warn is armed and dangerous.
On Aug. 6, 37-year-old Gary Michael of the Clinton Police Department pulled over a 2008 Dodge Nitro in the late evening for a registration violation. The driver exited the vehicle and began shooting at Michael, who was able to return fire. The gunman returned to his vehicle and attempted to drive away before crashing nearby. The suspect then exited his car again and fled on foot.
Michael was rushed to a local hospital and subsequently succumbed to his gunshot wounds. The slain officer had served with the Clinton Police Department for less than a year and is survived by his wife and several step sons. He was the first officer in the department's history to be killed in the line of duty.
"In a small community, the police department is very tight-knit, so it's obviously devastating for the family and also for the police department," Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe told the Associated Press.
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"(Michael) was heroic right to the end," Lowe added. "He was protecting his community."
On Aug. 7, the Clinton Police Department identified the suspect as 39-year-old Ian McCarthy, a white male with blue eyes and thinning hair. McCarthy was initially a person of interest in the murder but was deemed the prime suspect by morning. Local authorities have been scouring the area but have not yet apprehended the alleged gunman.
"We searched the house we believed the person we were looking for might have been in," Lowe told Fox News. "He was not in that house."
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There was no dash cam recording of the altercation between Michael and allegedly Lowe. Local law enforcement has set up checkpoints across and around Clinton. Police do not know if the suspect sustained any injuries during his exchange of gunfire with Michael.
Police have advised Clinton residents to call 911 or their local law enforcement if they encounter McCarthy but have urged them not to engage with him. The suspect is considered still armed an dangerous.
"He has already made one killing and decided that's in his mindset," Lowe told The Kansas City Star. "You want to make sure you keep your distance but contact us... He needs to be apprehended before he harms anyone else."
The U.S. Secret Service took to social media to offer condolences for the fallen officer.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of fallen Clinton, Missouri Police Officer Gary Michael," the Secret Service tweeted out.
The Henry County prosecuting attorney has charged McCarthy with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, pending his capture.
Sources: Associated Press via KY3, Associated Press via NBC News, Fox News, The Kansas City Star / Featured Image: KOMUnews/Flickr / Embedded Images: Missouri State Highway Patrol/Facebook, Missouri Highway Patrol/The Kansas City Star