A rookie Missouri police officer was fatally shot in the line of duty during a traffic stop Sunday night.
Clinton Police Officer Gary Michael, 37, was killed after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him, the Missouri State Highway Patrol says.
A murder warrant has been issued for the suspect in the shooting, Ian McCarthy, 39. He remains on the run.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Michael Was Shot After Stopping a Vehicle for a Registration Violation & He Returned Fire
Officer Gary Michael stopped a “suspicious vehicle” about 10:45 p.m. Sunday near Green and 2nd in Clinton, Missouri, KMBC-TV reports.
According to police, the driver, believed to be Ian McCarthy, pulled out a gun and opened fire on Michael. The officer returned fire, but police do not know if McCarthy was hit. McCarthy then fled the scene.
Michael was rushed to the hospital, where he later died, police said.
“It’s an unprovoked attack on Officer Michael,” Missouri Highway Patrol Sergeant Bill Lowe told The Washington Post. “We’re trying to hopefully draw this to a conclusion so we can figure out why it happened.”
A witness, Levi Pajula, who works across the street from the scene of the shooting, told KSHB-TV, “When I got to the door, I heard one pop, then four after that. I saw one officer being picked up by another officer. It was not a pretty scene to describe.”
According to the Kansas City Star, McCarthy was being stopped for a registration violation.
2. He Had Been a Police Officer, His ‘Dream Job,’ for Less Than a Year & Was an Army Veteran, His Mother Said in a Touching Tribute
Gary Lee Michael Jr., a Clinton native, had been a police officer for less than a year.
Michael graduated from Clinton High School in 1998, according to his Linkedin profile. He served in the U.S. Army. Before becoming a police officer, he worked at a car dealership in Olate, Missouri, and as a project manager for a property management company. He also started his own project management company, Readi Enterprises, which he ran from 2014 until he entered the police academy in 2016.
Michael’s mother, Darrolyn Lauderdale, wrote a touching tribute to her son on her Facebook page. He was killed on her birthday. You can read the post below:
I don’t often post personal comments on my page but today is an exception. I want to tell you about my son, Gary Lee Michael, Jr. A loving and kind soul who grew tall and strong in body and mind. He served his country in the US Army. After returning home and finding his feet, not to mention the love of his life, he achieved his dream of becoming a police officer. At about 2245 hrs the 6th of August Clinton Police Officer Gary Michael made a traffic stop for unknown reason. While Gary was approaching the stopped car the driver shot him. Officer Michael managed to get off four rounds after he was shot. At 2316 hrs the 6th of August 2017 Officer Gary Lee Michael, jr , my son, my precious baby boy, was pronounced dead at Golden Valley Memorial Hospital.
His brother also paid tribute to him on Facebook, changing his photo to one of the two of them together:
Lowe told NBC News, “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. (Michael) was heroic right to the end. He was protecting his community.”
3. He Is Also Survived by His Wife, Whom He Married in 2015, & His Stepsons
Michael is also survived by his wife and stepsons, police said.
He and his wife, Cresinda, were married in 2015 and he became a stepfather to her two sons, according to his Facebook page. In February he posted a photo from his wedding to his Facebook page, writing, “This is true happiness.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.
“It’s a tragedy, obviously, for his family, it’s a tragedy for Clinton Police Department but it’s a tragedy for this community,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant Bill Lowe told KCTV. “He was doing his job, you know, he was there protecting and serving and that’s what we’re called to do, and he did it with heroic fashion.”
4. Police Are Hunting for the Suspect in His Murder & Say He Is ‘Armed & Dangerous’
Ian McCarthy is considered to be “armed and dangerous,” the Missouri State Highway Patrol said in a tweet.
“If you see him Do NOT contact him. Call 911!” the highway patrol said.
Investigators are looking at surveillance cameras in the area of the shooting and are continuing to search nearby.
“We’re still searching the area and making sure that we’re leaving no stone unturned,” Missouri Highway Patrol Sergeant Bill Lowe told The Washington Post.
“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.”
McCarthy’s vehicle, a Dodge Nitro, was found wrecked near the scene of the shooting, police told KSHB-TV.
The vehicle was crashed about two blocks west of the scene. Police do not know if Ian McCarthy was shot by Officer Michael, who returned fire after he was wounded, according to KSHB.
Police searched a home where they thought McCarthy might be, but were not able to locate him there, KCTV reports.
“He is no longer a person of interest, he is a suspect in this killing and he needs to be apprehended before he hurts anybody else,” Missouri Highway Patrol Sergeant Bill Lowe told the news station. “We’ve tried all kinds of different investigative tools to be able to locate him but we’re doing everything we can for the family to get some closure.”
5. Ian McCarthy Has a Lengthy Criminal Past, Including a 2001 Conviction for Stabbing a Child Multiple Times, Causing Severe Injuries
Ian McCarthy has also lived in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he has a lengthy criminal record, according to KSHB-TV. His criminal history there includes first-degree assault, possession of a dangerous weapon and reckless and disorderly conduct.
According to court records, McCarthy stabbed a child in 2001 several times, causing “severe injuries to his neck, chest and abdomen.” He was convicted of first-degree assault by a jury. Additional details of that case were not immediately available. The case went before the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 2003 when McCarthy appealed an order that he pay restitution to the victim’s mother. The Supreme Court ruled that the lower court had erred by ordering him to pay her restitution, finding that the only victim was her son.
He has been wanted on a warrant for his arrest in New Hampshire since 2013, according to the Associated Press. He is wanted for failure to appear for sentencing on a disorderly conduct charge. According to the AP, McCarthy has been arrested on more than 20 charges, ranging from misdemeanor traffic violations to felonies, from 1997 to 2011.
McCarthy has also been arrested previously in Missouri, according to online court records. He was charged with operating a vehicle without a license in October 2013 and pleaded guilty to that charge, paying a fine.
In 2015, McCarthy was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, a felony. That case remains open. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but it is not clear if he was ever taken into custody. There are no scheduled hearings in that case, though it remains pending, records show.