CLINTON, Mo. — On Friday, the town square in Clinton was lined with people who came to honor a local hero who put his life before theirs and made the ultimate sacrifice.
It was an emotional experience for the small town whose residents are stunned by the death of yet another police officer.
As Officer Ryan Morton’s body was escorted through the square in Clinton, you could feel the collective hearts of everyone in the town of 9,000 break.
“It is very little to ask to come out and honor the man who gave his life to protect our community,” Richard Long said.
Morton was killed Tuesday night when he and two other officers responded to a 911 call at a house in Clinton. Turned out, no one at the house called police but when they went inside to ensure everything was okay, a man inside opened fire.
In the sea of sadness, there was one person who personally knows the pain of rolling through this square to say goodbye.
“My stepdad was Gary Michael,” Dalton Young proudly said. “So it is something I just need to come out here to do.”
On Friday, Young honored Morton as part of the crowd of supporters. Seven months ago, he was where Morton’s family is now, feeling the support of the crowd from a car in his step-father’s procession.
“I will probably never forget that,” Young said through tears. “All of the support as you can see is still the same here. Makes you want to cry a little bit.”
It's this type of community support the Morton family will need going forward as they mourn the loss of the 30-year-old man who gave his life protecting his community.
Although there's pride, there's also pain that Young says will never go away.
“It has been hard. It is kind of hard not to have a father figure around very much anymore,” Young said. “My mother is always broken up about it. Just randomly she will get upset. I think about him a lot, of course.”
Not only are people in Clinton supporting the Morton family and police department, but people from all over the country are showing support, too.
“I got a phone call from somebody who wanted to make sure our officers had something to eat in the morning first thing,” Elizabeth Church said about an order she took at the Blue Ribbon Bakery.
It was an order by someone in Texas who sent sticky buns, cinnamon rolls and cookies to the Clinton officers who gathered at the police station before bringing their brother in blue home.
“They just wanted me to write on the box, 'Thank you for your service and God bless,'” Church said.
The Clinton Flower Shop has taken orders from law enforcement, fire and EMS departments across Missouri and across the country -- even from some folks that usually oppose us, who are now standing with us.
“The New York Yankees sent their arrangement again this year," Clinton Flower Shop owner Scott Brooks said. "They did this last time, seven months ago."
The procession Friday was just the first in a number of events that will be held to honor Morton’s sacrifice. His visitation is scheduled for 2-6 p.m. Sunday at the Benson Center in Clinton, 1008 E. Sedalia Ave.
His funeral is at the same location Monday starting at 11 a.m. They are expecting the building will be at full capacity, which is 2,800 people. Law enforcement will then take Morton’s body to his hometown of Knob Noster, where he will be buried.
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