KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Authorities are trying to determine why Missouri police officers responding to a 911 call were sent to the wrong house, where they say a man opened fire, killing one officer and wounding two others before he, too, died.
Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe said whoever placed the 911 call on Tuesday night didn’t speak to the dispatcher, but two women could be heard arguing in the background, so officers were sent to check on the disturbance. For reasons that authorities still are trying to determine, the officers were sent to the address in Clinton where they were shot instead of the home from where the call was made, which was about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away in Windsor.
The three Clinton officers went inside the home to determine if criminal activity was occurring and a man inside, James Waters, shot them, Lowe said.
In captured police scanner communications, a dispatcher can be heard talking to Clinton Officer Christopher Ryan Morton soon after he was fatally wounded. Morton says he has been hit “multiple times” and that he doesn’t think he can make it out of a window. The dispatcher begs Morton to “stay with us.”
The two wounded officers eventually made it out of the house, but Waters barricaded himself inside and exchanged gunfire with the dozens of officers who eventually arrived, The Kansas City Star reported. Neighbor Sheryl Long said officers begged Waters during the standoff to let them tend to Morton.
By the time officers got to Morton hours later, he was dead, along with Waters. It wasn’t immediately known if Waters shot himself or was killed by police, Lowe said.
Waters had been in and out of prison for years, mostly for drug-related convictions. His cousin, John Rudolph, told KCTV that Waters was troubled and “mental issues,” and that despite his criminal history, he managed to get guns.
“My cousin was a convicted felon that had no my right to any weapons, but at the same time he could get them. … Something has to change. Something has to give.”
He also expressed his condolences to the slain officer’s family.
“We are sorry that you lost your loved one,” Rudolph said. “We are sorry that we lost our loved one. We are sorry it went down the way this went down.”
The wounded officers were Nathan Bettencourt, who was in stable condition Wednesday, and Nicholas Kasper, who was treated for gunshot wounds and released.
Morton’s friend, Aiza Evans, told The Star that Morton knew the dangers of police work but was very patriotic and “passionate in everything he did.” 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.
Morton said in a social media exchange with Evans that Michael “fought til (sic) the end.” Morton, who replaced Michael on the force, said he was “Just trying to help the PD heal now.”
Clinton, with about 8,800 residents, is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Kansas City.