Thin blue line covers Clinton town square as community mourns officer killed in line of duty

CLINTON, Mo. -- Signs of support for the fallen and injured officers are all over Clinton.

A thin blue line of tape was placed around the town square Wednesday. Merchants also put police flags in their windows that they still had from when Officer Gary Michael was killed in August 2017. Several larger flags went up around town, along with messages of support on marquees of banks and churches.

"We get through everything together," Clinton resident Julie Plumlee said. "That's kind of our motto here, the good times and the bad."

Wednesday was a somber day in Clinton as people coped with the unimaginable for the second time in just seven months.

Officer Christopher Ryan Morton was killed Tuesday night when officers were sent to a Clinton home where they encountered 37-year-old James E. Waters, who fired shots at the officers. The two other officers who were injured in the shooting are both recovering from gunshot wounds.

Officer Chris Ryan Morton

Word spread quickly on social media that three officers had been shot. Others learned of it as they got ready to start their day on Wednesday.

"At 5 o'clock, I turn it on and the first thing I hear is three Clinton police officers have been shot and then it just started rolling through my mind everybody that it might be," Plumlee said.

Morton was a former reserve officer who came back to the force full time after Michael's shooting death just last August in Clinton.

Prayers for Morton's family were offered up on signs for churches, banks and the Elks Lodge, where a wreath was placed in his honor.

"We all know each other, or we know somebody who knows somebody," Plumlee said.

She knows Officer Nathan Bettencourt, who was wounded along with Officer Nicholas Kasper and remains hospitalized tonight.

"From the time he was little he always wanted to be a cop," Plumlee said of Bettencourt. "He always talked about being an officer, and he's a good one."

Authorities said Wednesday that the Clinton officers were actually sent to the wrong house. Further investigation traced the phone number from the 911 call to a Windsor, Missouri, address — not the Clinton home that police were sent to.

Police are investigating how the error occurred.