Gary Michael, 37, who had been with the Clinton, Missouri, Police Department for less than a year, pulled over a vehicle for a suspected registration violation Sunday night, according to Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
As Michael exited his vehicle in downtown Clinton, the alleged shooter also got out of his car and fired once at the officer before fleeing the scene and crashing his vehicle into an embankment about four blocks away, Lowe said.
Michael returned fire, but it's not clear if he hit the suspect, who fled on foot after the crash, the sergeant said. Michael was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Police set up several checkpoints around the city, local media reported.
Authorities initially named Ian McCarthy of Clinton, the person to whom the car was registered, as a person of interest, then later labeled him a suspect. They have searched the 39-year-old's home and the surrounding area, Lowe said.
The Clinton Police Department has no body camera policy, but police were working Monday morning to determine if there was dashcam video from Michael's car or surveillance video from nearby businesses, Lowe said.
The shooting unfolded in downtown Clinton, near several government buildings, including the Henry County courthouse, library and sheriff's office. The town of 8,800 is located about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City.
Michael had a wife and stepchildren, according to CNN affiliate WDAF.
"It's a tragedy, obviously, for his family. It's a tragedy for Clinton Police Department, but it's a tragedy for this community," Lowe told the station. "He was doing his job, you know, he was there protecting and serving and that's what we're called to do, and he did it with heroic fashion."