The police officers who were shot in Missouri on Tuesday, March 6, were sent to the wrong address before finding something wrong at the house they responded to.
One of the officers, Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was killed.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in a statement that Morton and other officers were sent to a house in Clinton when the 911 call that prompted the response actually came from an address in Windsor. The two towns are about 15 miles apart.
The cause of the call wasn’t clear but the dispatcher could hear two women arguing in the background.
When Morton and other Clinton police officers arrived at the wrong home, they came into contact with a woman, Tammy Widger, outside the house.
Widger told officers there was no problem at the home but after officers confirmed the address with dispatch, they entered the house.
Inside, they encountered James Waters, who shot the officers.
7 months after one of their officers was shot and killed, the Clinton, Missouri Police Department lost another officer last night when Officer Christopher Ryan Morton was shot and killed. 2 other officers also shot and injured. Keep this small town in your thoughts and prayers pic.twitter.com/b6eWMYtMtU
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 7, 2018
Waters, 37, killed Morton and wounded two other officers—Nathan Bettencourt was in stable condition on Wednesday while Nicholas Kasper was treated for his injuries and released.
After the officers were shot, a SWAT team entered the house and found Waters dead.
Investigators are working to determine whether one of the officers killed him or if he shot himself, reported The Associated Press.
Witnesses told the Kansas City Star that at least 20 gunshots were exchanged between the officers and Waters.
After Morton was shot, the other officers pleaded with Waters to stop and let them get him to safety.
“Hang on buddy, we’re here, we’re here,” Sheryl Long, who lives directly across the street, said they yelled. “Stay with us, stay with us!”
”Please let us get our wounded officer out. There is no need for anyone else to get hurt. There’s been enough damage,” Long recounted them yelling.
Family members and friends were mourning the loss of Morton, who served in Afghanistan before becoming a police officer.
“The world has lost a great soldier and even a better person,” said Matthew Hografe, who wrote in a Facebook post he had deployed with Morton four years ago, reported the Kansas City Star. “You will never be forgotten.”
“He was always professional, funny, and took a positive outlook on this,” added David Wilkinson on Facebook.
Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe acknowledged that the officers were sent to the wrong home but that they did their job.
Missouri officer is shot and killed and two other cops are injured after being dispatched to wrong address on 911 call https://t.co/0OMpyMqg3p
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) March 8, 2018
“It is a coincidence they were called to that specific address,” Lowe said. “It is tragic that happened. But the fact is they were in the act of committing crimes within that house. When [the officers] entered that house they were doing what they needed to ensure no one was hurt and there wasn’t any other problems.”
Widger was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, and with maintaining a public nuisance.
It’s unclear whether Waters, who was being sought in connection with a rape case, lived at the home. His relationship with Widger is also unclear.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Clinton Police Department, and the Henry County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the case.