As more details have come to light the past few hours, investigators have determined that Officer Christopher Ryan Morton and two other officers, Officer Nathan Bettencourt and Officer Nicholas Kasper, went to the wrong house.
In Clinton, Missouri, police officers were responding to an emergency 9-1-1 call on March 6, 2018. The officers received a call from dispatch that two women were heard yelling in the background, however, neither of those women spoke to the dispatcher.
This led the officers to a home unrelated to the call, according to Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe. The 9-1-1 call was actually from Windsor, Missouri, which about 20 miles northeast of Clinton, according to The Kansas City Star.
"The 9-1-1 call that came in was somehow attached to that [Clinton] address," Lowe said in a Wednesday afternoon.
When other officers arrived at the Windsor residence, they realized the fatal error.
"We had to backtrack, go through the investigation, locate the number and contact the individuals in Windsor," Lowe said.
Lowe also said that the three officers were clearly given the Clinton address by the dispatcher. At this time, it is still unclear if it was a faulty computer system or if it was a human error.
"It's tough to navigate through and deal with," Lowe said. "This investigation is not complete."
The Clinton officers were searching for criminal activity when they entered the home, and that was when James E. Waters opened fire.
"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.
Sgt. Collins Stosberg, another spokesman with the Missouri Highway Patrol, said the woman who lives in the Clinton home is Tammy Widger, 37. She met the officers on the porch and told them nothing was going on, nor was there anyone inside.
After the officers spoke with Widger, they asked the dispatcher for clarification about the nature of the emergency call.
"Could you hear anything on the open line?" one officer asks.
"We can just hear two females arguing. We're not sure what they were saying," a dispatcher replies.
Suddenly, gunshots were fired. Officer Morton was the first to enter the home, while James, who has a criminal history, was waiting with a gun inside.
"We are required to make sure everyone is safe," Sgt. Stosberg said as he explained why the three officers entered the home.
"Shots fired. Shots..." an officer said just before the officer's transmission disconnected.
Other officers were radioing Officer Morton, who was No. 19.
"Nineteen, where you at?" an officer hollered.
"Back room, right side," Morton responded.
"You good?" the officer asked.
"No," Morton responded. “I’m hit multiple times. One left arm. Both legs. The chest, the vest.”
An officer reported that “19, 14 and 18 are all hit with assault rifle fire.”
“Morton, stay with us,” an officer said. “Stay with us, Morton.”
Officer Morton was later found by the Highway Patrol SWAT team who entered in about 12:10 a.m.
The other two officers were injured during the gunfight but are expected to recover. Officer Bettencourt will undergo surgery at a Kansas City hospital and is in stable condition. Officer Kasper was treated for his wounds and was released on Wednesday.
After the gunfight, methamphetamine was allegedly found in Widger's home. She is charged with possession of the illegal drug with the intent to distribute.
“The world has lost a great soldier and even a better person,” said Matthew Hogrefe, who wrote on Facebook that he had deployed with Morton four years ago. “You will never be forgotten.”
Multiple businesses and public offices flew a special blue and black American flag alongside a half-mast U.S. flag in honor of the fallen officer.
“We have a great police department, one of the best. I’m feeling shock along with everyone else...We’re always going to find strength. It’s always going to come in numbers ... sharing stories, sharing hugs.”
Please keep everyone involved in your prayers during this tragic time.
In other news, a student brings a homemade bomb to school and tries to detonate it. For details, check out the article here.