iStock/Thinkstock(CLINTON, Mo.) — A Clinton, Missouri, police officer who was gunned down Tuesday night was done so responding to the wrong address, police said.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe made the distinction in a news conference late Wednesday, saying police officers, including Ryan Morton, were given the wrong address by dispatchers. Upon arrival, Morton and two other officers came under fire from a suspect, entered the home and were struck by gunfire. Morton was killed.
Morton, 30, had returned to the Clinton Police Department after another officer there died in the line of duty last year, authorities said Wednesday.
Two other police officers were injured but survived the Tuesday night shooting in Clinton, about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City.
The officers were shot at about 9:30 p.m. when they entered a home after receiving a 911 call in which two women were screaming in the background, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Lowe said late Wednesday that call was actually made from a home in Windsor, Mo., about 20 miles from Clinton.
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It was not clear whether the wrong address was a human or computer error, Lowe said.
By 12:30 a.m., authorities said, officers had entered the residence and found the suspect — 37-year-old James Waters — dead.
Officials were still investigating whether the suspect was shot by police or killed himself, Lowe said. No one else was injured.
“We’re still piecing everything together,” Lowe said in the hours immediately following the shooting. “We’re way early in the investigation.”
Scanner traffic revealed a chaotic scene inside the home where Morton was killed.
A dispatcher is heard asking, “Morton, you good?” to which he replies, “No, I’m hit multiple times, one — least arm, both legs, vest.”
“Morton, can you make it out a window?” the dispatcher asks.
“I don’t think so,” he responds. “I don’t know if I can move my feet.”
A minute and a half later, dispatchers are heard repeatedly asking Morton to “talk to us” and “stay with us.” He never responds.
Morton’s death was seven months to the day after a fellow Clinton police officer, Gary Michael, was shot dead, ABC Kansas City affiliate KMBC-TV reported.
Michael was killed after pulling over a driver for a traffic violation in August, KMBC reported.
Morton had worked for the Clinton Police Department before Michael’s death and returned to the department after he had died, Lowe said.
“It’s hard to put into words what you go through when you have an officer killed in the line of duty, and then to have it happen to a department after a short period of time; that’s hard to wrap your head around,” Lowe said. “I do know the Clinton Police Department is a well-respected police department — not only in this area but around this area — and they’re going to forge on. They’ll need help along the way. We’re all saddened by this tragic event.”
Ian McCarthy has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Michael. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in Michael’s shooting, the Associated Press reported.
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