(ABC) A Clinton, Missouri, police officer who was gunned down Tuesday night had returned to that department after another officer there died in the line of duty last year, authorities said today.
The officer killed Tuesday was identified as 30-year-old Christopher Ryan Morton.
Officer Christopher Ryan Morton
James Earl Waters
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.
After responding, the officers were fired at from inside the home and chose to go inside to "apprehend the suspect," police said. The officers were struck by gunfire inside, with one dying on the scene.
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, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe said. No one else was injured.
"We're still piecing everything together," Lowe said. "We're way early in the investigation."
The two injured officers are being treated at a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
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.
Governor Eric Greitens released a statement after the shooting:
“Through the ages, the people who protect us go by different names. In one era, they are called warriors. In another, knights.
In our era, the people who walk our streets and defend the defenseless are given an honored name: they are called police officers.
Today, in the state of Missouri, we lost one of our police officers. He was a thirty-year old gentleman whose name was Ryan Morton. Officer Morton was a member of the Clinton Police Department, and late last night, he was shot and killed in the line of duty.
All of us can stop today and pray for him and his blessed memory. We can think about his family, and we can, for a moment, share in their grief. And these are good and right things, and we should do them.
I’d ask us to do one more thing: think of this police department and all police departments throughout our state. This fall, the Clinton Police Department lost Officer Gary Michael. I got to know the men and women of the Clinton Police Department and the community through that tragedy.
Officer Morton took Officer Michael’s post in the department. Those two warriors are together now, in the company of God, who has brought his sons home.
We are blessed to live in a time and place with men and women of the character and quality of Officer Morton and Officer Michael. And it’s because they are men and women of such strength and wisdom and love that we feel such grief when they leave us.
We mourn our servants today. We bless their memory. We honor their families. And we will—we must—do everything in our power to stand by this department and community in their grief.
God bless every single police officer in the state of Missouri and around the country. God bless you, and your families, and the communities you call home.”