Hundreds pay tribute to Clinton officer killed in shooting - KCTV5 News

Hundreds pay tribute to Clinton officer killed in shooting

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For the second time in only seven months, residents of Clinton will lay one of their police officers, shot and killed in the line of duty, to rest. (Pool) For the second time in only seven months, residents of Clinton will lay one of their police officers, shot and killed in the line of duty, to rest. (Pool)
CLINTON, MO (KCTV/AP) -

Hundreds of mourners have paid tribute to a young Clinton police officer killed in the line of duty.

Loved ones and fellow officers were among the many people in attendance Monday for the funeral of 30-year-old Clinton officer Ryan Morton at the Benson Convention Center in Clinton.

Morton was laid to rest in Knob Noster City Cemetery, in his hometown of Knob Noster, MO. Morton’s body passed by the Henry County Courthouse, Clinton City Hall and the Clinton Police Department on the way to his burial site.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, who ordered all U.S. and Missouri flags to be flown at half-staff Monday, spoke at the funeral, praising Morton and other police officers for confronting danger and defending the defenseless.

Morton was shot and killed after responding to a disturbance call last Tuesday night in Clinton. Two other officers were shot but survived. The wounded officers were Nathan Bettencourt, who was in stable condition Thursday, and Nicholas Kasper, who was treated for gunshot wounds and released.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the officers were sent to the wrong house while responding to a 911 call made from another town.

The suspect, James Waters, then barricaded himself inside the home. By the time officers got to Morton, he was dead, along with Waters, who had a long criminal history. Waters had been in and out of prison since 2000, mostly for drug-related convictions and appeared to still be dealing drugs.

Several officers from agencies across western and central Missouri patroled the streets of Clinton during Morton's funeral, allowing the Clinton Police Department to attend the service. They say they know how important it is for the department to say their final farewell.

Members of the community got the chance to pay their respects to the fallen officer during a visitation on Sunday. The city also held a candle-light vigil at the Henry County Courthouse on Sunday evening.

Community, fellow officers to gather Sunday to remember slain Clinton police officer

The U.S. Honor Flag arrived in Clinton to Morton. This was the second time in less than one year that the U.S. Honor Flag will honor a hero with the Clinton Police Department.

“It symbolizes so much to the family,” U.S. Honor Flag founder Chris Heisler said. “If you can bring comfort to anybody, this is the way we do it because they understand that sacrifice isn't going to be forgotten.”

Special gloves are used to hold and handle the flag. Those gloves were given to Morton’s family after the ceremony.

"All those gloves being used will be surrendered to the family so they'll be able to take that sacrifice with them, but the journey of the flag continues," Heisler said.

The flag was laid on the right side of Morton’s casket.

“Symbolically, their names and sacrifices, along with thousands of their brothers and sisters, are part of what this flag is all about,” Heisler said.

Those attending the funeral say they wanted to honor Morton's sacrifice. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders were among those wanting to honor Morton.

"If you don’t tear up today something is wrong with you," rider Randy Vogel said. "I get very emotional and I can’t be emotional today because I have to lead this group."

Morton, a twice-deployed veteran who joined the Army National Guard in 2005, took a temporary break from full-time policing last year to take a job with Veterans Affairs in the Kansas City area, although he remained a reserve officer in Clinton. The break ended after a gunman fatally shot another Clinton officer, Gary Michael, in August.

To date, officers killed by gunfire in the line of duty is up 167-percent according to Officer Down Memorial Page.

Photos: Law enforcement officers who've been shot to death this year

"The senseless killing of police officers has created a challenge of retention and recruitment for agencies nationwide," said Cynthia Cohn, Chief of Staff for The Honor Network and retired police officer.

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