By Kristine Phillips, The Washington Post
The search for a man suspected of killing a Missouri police officer during a traffic stop ended after an alert driver spotted him walking along a state highway not far from where the shooting occurred.
Sgt. Bill Lowe, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said Ian McCarthy was spotted Tuesday night near Bucksaw Resort & Marina in Clinton, Mo., less than 20 miles from where authorities say he fatally shot Officer Gary Michael.
(Ian McCarthy is charged with murder in Clinton cop slaying, booked into county jail. Courtesy of 41 Action News and YouTube)
McCarthy’s arrest ended a two-day manhunt that spanned several miles in the western part of the state and began Sunday night, when what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop over a registration violation quickly escalated into an exchange of gunfire.
The officer’s death shocked the small Missouri town, about 75 miles from Kansas City, Mo., and sent law enforcement agencies nationwide into mourning.
A four-minute police dispatch recording obtained by the Kansas City Star paints a picture of what happened about 10:45 p.m. Sunday, when authorities say Michael pulled over McCarthy.
An officer, presumably Michael, can be heard radioing his location, describing the vehicle as a dark-gray Dodge SUV and giving a phonetic alphabet spelling of the license plate.
Moments later, there was a scream: “Shots fired! Officer hit!”
(Police say 39-year-old Ian McCarthy exited his car and opened fire after he was pulled over by Officer Gary Michael. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Aug 7, 2017)
Within seconds, the blare of sirens can be heard. A dispatcher alerted all Henry County units that an officer had been shot and that the suspect had driven away.
“Shots fired! Officer down, officer down. I repeat, officer down!” another officer can be heard saying.
Michael, a 37-year-old officer for the Clinton Police Department, went into cardiac arrest, according to the audio. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
An officer can be heard saying that Michael had been shot with a long gun and that a bullet went through his vest.
Authorities have remained tight-lipped about what might have prompted the shooting, saying only that McCarthy got out of his vehicle after he was pulled over and fired shots at Michael.
He then drove off, crashed his car nearby and ran away.
Lowe said McCarthy was wounded during the shooting, though he declined to discuss the extent of the injuries.
McCarthy, who was not armed when he was arrested, was taken to a Kansas City-area hospital for treatment and is now at the Henry County Jail, the Associated Press reported.
The 39-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
McCarthy served four years in prison in New Hampshire for first-degree assault and a parole violation, according to the AP.
He has a four-year-old outstanding warrant in that state for failing to show up for sentencing on a disorderly conduct charge.
He has another outstanding warrant from Johnson County in Missouri for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Lowe said it’s hard to say whether those outstanding warrants were part of the reason McCarthy shot Michael.
“Without the phone call in, we might still be looking for him.”
Condolences from local and federal law enforcement agencies have poured in for Michael’s family and the Clinton Police Department, where he’d been an officer for just less than a year.
It was his dream job, his brother told the Kansas City Star.
“Gary’s only regret was that he didn’t do this sooner,” Chris Michael said.
“He was just loving what he did and really enjoyed the people in the community.”
On Wednesday, a procession with dozens of law enforcement and public safety vehicles brought Michael’s body back to Clinton, where a flag was mounted to honor him.
(The body of fallen Clinton Officer Gary Michael is heading home. His body will be escorted back to Clinton from the Jackson County Medical Examiners office by many area law enforcement agencies. Courtesy of 41 Action News and YouTube)
Editor’s note: Our condolences to the MSHP. May Officer Michael rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.