Tip leads to arrest of suspect in Missouri officer's death

By MARGARET STAFFORD, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man charged in the shooting death of a western Missouri police officer has been arrested after an alert driver provided a tip that the fugitive was wandering within miles of where the killing took place, a law enforcement official said.
The driver reported seeing Ian McCarthy walking along a state highway near Bucksaw Marina, just east of Clinton, and he was arrested without incident late Tuesday, Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri Highway Patrol said at a news conference later that night.
The arrest ended a two-day manhunt that began after 37-year-old Clinton police officer Gary Michael was shot to death during a traffic stop Sunday night in Clinton, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City.
Michael and McCarthy had exchanged gunfire before the officer died and the driver fled. Lowe said McCarthy, 39, was suffering from a gunshot wound when a patrol trooper arrested him. Lowe declined to provide specifics about the gunshot wound except to say “Officer Michael was heroic to the end.”
McCarthy was taken to a Kansas City area hospital for treatment and then was taken into custody at the Henry County jail.
“We’re just extremely thankful to the citizens of Henry County and citizens of Clinton that continued to give us tips and information. Without that, we may still be looking for him,” Lowe said.
McCarthy was not armed when he was arrested. Investigators will continue to look for the weapon used in Michael’s shooting and try to determine a motive, Lowe said.
McCarthy is also wanted in New Hampshire, where a warrant was issued in 2013 when he failed to show up for sentencing on a disorderly conduct charge, according to court records in that state. He served about four years in prison there for first-degree assault and a parole violation. He also is wanted on a warrant out of Johnson County, Missouri, in 2015 for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Lowe said earlier Tuesday that it was possible that those outstanding warrants prompted McCarthy to shoot Michael to avoid arrest. He also could have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or not in his right mind for some reason, Lowe said.
Michael’s brother, Chris Michael, said the family is relieved that the suspect has been caught alive so “justice could be served.” Michael told KCTV5 that McCarthy’s capture was a positive step for everyone mourning his brother.
“We’re just happy that we’re going to be able to put this one Band-Aid in a long process of healing on, and start to move forward,” he said.
About 100 local, county and state law enforcement officers were involved in the search for McCarthy, who fled in his car, then on foot after the shooting.
Authorities earlier Tuesday converged on a home in Chilhowee, Missouri, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Clinton after receiving a tip that McCarthy might be hiding there, but that tip did not pan out, Lowe said.
“It’s a relief for us that he’s in custody but it’s with extreme sadness it was a result of Officer Michael losing his life,” said Lowe Tuesday night. “There’s no words we can say or express to his family, how sorry we are, but we hope this gives them some closure in this.”
Michael, who had been on the force less than a year, was the first police officer killed in the line of duty in Clinton, a town of just 9,000 people. He was a military police officer overseas for about five years before returning to the Kansas City area. He decided in his 30s to become a police officer and served in Appleton City for a short time before joining the force in Clinton.
Services for Michael will begin with a public vigil Wednesday night at the Henry County Courthouse. A visitation is scheduled for Friday from 6-9 p.m. at the Vansant-Mills Funeral Home in Clinton, with the funeral scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Benson Convention Center, with a public viewing two hours before the service.
___
Associated Press reporter Jim Suhr also contributed to this story.
___
Sign up for the AP’s weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas: http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv .