An investigation is underway to find a 39-year-old man who is believed to have shot and killed a 37-year-old police officer at a traffic stop in Clinton, Missouri.
Officer Gary Michael, who had been serving in the police force for less than one year, pulled over suspect Ian McCarthy for a vehicle registration violation around 10:45 p.m. on Aug. 6.
Once pulled over, McCarthy allegedly got out of his 2008 Dodge Nitro and shot Michael, who returned fire. McCarthy was able to get back in his vehicle and drive away, although police do not know whether he was hit.
McCarthy crashed the car two blocks from where the shooting took place. Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri Highway Patrol told Fox News that McCarthy then fled on foot.
Michael was rushed to a hospital where he died of his injuries, The Kansas City Star reports.
"When I got to the door, I heard one pop, then four after that," said Levi Pajula, who witnessed the shooting. "I saw one officer being picked up by another officer. It was not a pretty scene to describe."
Police blocked off the area of the crash and set up checkpoints around the town as they continued to search for the suspect, KSHB reports.
McCarthy appears to have a criminal record. According to KSHB, he has an active warrant for arrest in New Hampshire, where he has been charged for illegal weapon possession, disorderly conduct and first-degree assault.
McCarthy pleaded guilty in November 2013 to driving without a license in Missouri, reports Fox News. In July 2015, he was charged with illegal firearm possession, although the court records do not show if he was sentenced for that charge.
McCarthy now faces charges for first-degree murder and felony armed criminal action. According to Fox News, authorities believe he is still near the Clinton area.
Michael was known in the community and leaves behind a wife and stepsons. He is the first police officer of Clinton to die on duty.
"He has a loving wife. I just met his brother-in-law, and he says he helps raise his kids also," said witness Pajula. "He was one of the good ones. Most you can't find around."
"You know it's a tragedy obviously for his family, it's a tragedy for Clinton Police Department, but it's a tragedy for this community," said Sgt. Lowe. "You know he was doing his job. He was there protecting and serving, and that's what we are called to do, and he did it."
Police departments have been quick to extend their condolences on the loss over social media, with many including the hashtag #thethinblueline -- a discussion board for "everyone who is a fan of police officers and appreciate what they do for us everyday" -- at the end of their posts.
Henry County law enforcement has encouraged the public to notify them if they know about the case or if they see any suspicious individuals. Lowe warns not to get too close, as it is believed that McCarthy is dangerous.
"He has already made one killing and decided that’s in his mindset,” Lowe said. “You want to make sure you keep your distance but contact us."