Clinton community in shock after loss of second police officer i - KCTV5 News

Clinton community in shock after loss of second police officer in 7 months

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Clinton Police Department officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was killed during the shooting. (Missouri Highway Patrol) Clinton Police Department officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was killed during the shooting. (Missouri Highway Patrol)
CLINTON, MO (KCTV) -

The Clinton community has again been ripped apart at the seams. Many are asking the question, how could this happen, again.

It was exactly seven months ago that Officer Gary Michael was killed in the line of duty.

On Tuesday, Clinton Police Department officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was shot and killed while entering a home, searching for a suspect.

The suspect in the killing of Morton has been identified as James E. Waters, 37, from Clinton.

Clinton is a town of about 9,000 people. It is small, closely knit and Tuesday night’s tragic shooting is going to hurt for a while.

Officials say Morton served with distinction for the citizens of Clinton as a full-time police officer from February 2015 to January 2017. He stayed with the department as a reserve officer until again returning to full-time duty shortly after Clinton Police officer Gary Michael was killed in the line of duty in August of 2017.

Many living in the small, west-central Missouri town say they are still recovering from officer Michael's shooting and say they are struggling to comprehend Tuesday's shooting. 

"Shock. I didn’t know what to think, I mean we just went through this seven months ago and it’s not something that happens in Clinton, it’s not something that should happen again ever, but it’s so soon, it’s even more hard to comprehend,” said Keith Weston, owner of Create Paints.

“It’s pretty sad," said Clinton resident Jimmy Jones. "It’s another tragedy for the town to get over you know probably over something stupid that it happened over. Like I said, it’s a pretty strong little town they will pull together.”

Dennis Dempsey of Calhoun, MO, says he is disturbed by the shooting and was ready to speak his mind about the tragedy.

“It’s disturbing. I mean they’re out here to defend us and we have idiots out here that want to take their lives and it bothers me that we have people like that in our community,” Dempsey said. “I don’t know what we are going to do. We’re small, close-knit, it’s like family.”

Many in both the community and the surrounding area took to social media to share messages of love and prayer.

Officials in the Clinton School District say counselors and social workers will be made available to students on Wednesday.

Several law enforcement agencies from around the Clinton area shared their condolences about the tragic shooting.

The organization Officer Down says in 2017, 134 officers were killed in the line of duty.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, on March 7, 2017, 25 officers had lost their lives. So far, in 2018, 26 officers have been killed.

Steve Groeninger is the Senior Director of Communications and Marketing for the organization. He says there is something that stands out about this year's numbers.

"Overall, we`re seeing a year that looks a lot like last year based on a point in time comparison," Groeninger said. "The one thing that does stand out is the increase in firearms-related deaths this year over the same point in time last year.”

Of the 26 officers killed, so far, in 2018, 16 have died from gunfire.

Morton and Michael are the only Clinton Police Department officers to be killed in the line of duty.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt released the following statement on the death of Morton:

“Officer Christopher Morton put his life on the line in service to his community and our nation, and we are deeply saddened by his loss,” Blunt said. “Officer Morton’s death is yet another stark reminder of the danger our law enforcement men and women face every day. Every time they put on the uniform, they put our lives and our safety ahead of their own. We are forever grateful to them and their families for their sacrifice. Our thoughts are with Officer Morton’s family, the two officers who were injured, and the Clinton Police Department.”

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