A Missouri officer fatally shot while responding to a 911 call was sent to the wrong house — about 15 miles away from where he and two other officers were supposed to be, authorities said.
Clinton Police Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was shot and killed when he and two other officers responded to a 911 call in which two women were heard screaming in the background. None of the women directly spoke to the operator.
"The 911 call that came in was somehow attached to that [Clinton] address," Lowe said in a Wednesday afternoon, according to the Kansas City Star.
The officers were sent to an address in Clinton, even though the home that the officers should have been responding to was in Windsor, Mo., about 15 miles away, Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe said. The dispatcher mistakenly led the three officers to the home unrelated to the call.
The three officers entered the Clinton home, about 70 miles east of Kansas City, and were searching for possible criminal activity when James E. Waters, 37, opened fire, according to Lowe.
"We're confident that is not part of this incident [in Clinton], but the fact remains they were called to that residence...In order to determine nothing adverse was going on in that residence, they had to make sure everything was OK. That's when the tragic incident took place,” Lowe said.
Morton was shot and killed. Officers Nathan Bettencourt and Nicholas Kasper were both wounded. Bettencourt was in stable condition as of Wednesday. Kasper was treated for his gunshot wounds and released.
A SWAT team responded to the scene after the shooting and found Waters dead inside the home. It’s unclear how Waters died and if he was living in the home at the time.
"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."
A woman who lived in the Clinton home, Tammy Widger, 37, was charged Wednesday with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and maintaining a public nuisance, Henry County Prosecuting Attorney Richard Shields said. Drugs were being sold in the house, but it’s unclear if Tuesday night’s shooting was related to that crime.
Lowe said authorities backtracked and found the address the officers were supposed to respond to. The women who were heard in the 911 call were not connected to the Clinton home.
Waters was wanted in connection with a rape case, Shields said. He was previously convicted for drugs and resisting arrest and served several stints in prison between October 2000 and July 2017, according to Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Garry Brix. Waters was charged in November in Cass County with unlawful possession of a firearm and drug possession, court records show. He pleaded not guilty, and the case was pending when he died.
Morton joined the Army in November 2005 and was deployed twice. He had been with the Clinton Police Department from February 2015 to January 2017. He stayed on as a reserve officer, but returned to full-time duty in the summer after fellow Officer Gary Michael was shot and killed during a traffic stop in August, FOX4 KC reported.
Morton’s death marks the second Clinton police officer to die in the line of duty in the last seven months.
"It's just another tragic event for this community and especially this police department. They've endured a lot. They're going to endure more," Lowe said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.