Police swarm small town of Chilhowee to search for suspect in murder of Clinton, Mo. officer

CHILHOWEE, Mo. — There is a heavy police presence in Chilhowee, Mo.,  Tuesday afternoon after residents reported possibly seeing Ian McCarthy, 39, the man suspected of killing a Clinton, Mo., police officer Sunday night during a traffic stop.

Chilhowee is approximately 22 miles north of Clinton, Mo., according to Google Maps.

People are telling Fox 4 Chilhowee is on lock down, but Johnson County, Missouri Sheriff’s Office said they cannot give out any information. Chilhowee is approximately 22 miles north of Clinton.

McCarthy is charged with killing Officer Gary Micheal, 37.  McCarthy has managed to elude police for more than a day, but officers have said they are working dozens of leads in the search for the suspected killer.

Police have descended on the small town of Chilhowee.

FOX 4’s Abby Eden just spoke to the owner of the Chilhowee Corner Store, April Sigfried, who said life flight landed the a nearby school and an ambulance has been brought in. State patrol, county deputies are on the scene, and no one is allowed in or out of county store at all.

At 1:15 p.m., on Tuesday authorities had not confirmed that McCarthy is in Chilhowee. The police response there could simply indicate they are checking out tips from people who believe they have seen him.

FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien is at the scene. She says she sees a command post of SWAT officers, law enforcement and ambulances. All roads are being blocked. Every car trying to come into town is being searched and people questioned, she says.  Like our Facebook page, where she is expected to bring us more live reports. Turn on FOX 4 News on your televisions for breaking news reports, as the situation unfolds.

Suspect Ian McCarthy

McCarthy, who is from Clinton, Mo., faces charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He also has a lengthy criminal history that includes a warrant issued in New Hampshire in Oct. 2013 after he failed to appear for sentencing on a disorderly conduct charge. Court records also show he pleaded guilty to driving without a valid license in Missouri in Nov. 2013. In July of 2015, he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Along with these cases, his rap sheet from 1997 to 2011 includes 20 different counts ranging from misdemeanor traffic violations to criminal charges.

On Monday, police said they are confident they will find McCarthy, and that they will not let him dictate the search.

Officer Gary Michael

Officer Michael is the first and only Clinton, Mo., police officer to die in the line of duty. He was just 37 years old and leaves behind a wife and step sons.

Chris Michael, officer Michael’s brother, said officer Michael joined the military after high school, and was serving in the Army on Sept. 11. He said his brother took a few different paths after leaving the military, but always felt the call to serve. Officer Michael had been with the Clinton Police Department for less than a year.

Chris Michael

Just hours after the shooting Chris spoke out, not with words of anger or resentment, but of love, fond memories, and gratitude for the time he got to spend with the man he called his hero.

“We have a great local sheriff and state and they’re going to bring him to justice and my brother defended that right for our country and we’re going to let that play out,” Chris said.

“It shows you there’s a lot of good people in the world and one man-made a bad decision and it’s bringing out a lot of good in others. It took my brother away but it took him to a better place and that’s alright,” Chris said.

Chris told Fox 4 he is choosing to believe that something good can come of this tragic situation.

“We’re going to hope that something good comes out of this and we were strong before and we’re strong today and our community is going to be a little stronger, and maybe our country is going to be a little stronger,” Chris said.