When Harley Graff heard about the shooting death of a police officer in Clinton late Tuesday, he looked to find out if it was an officer he knew.
The 27-year-old business owner in Clinton knows members of the city's police department.
"We're pretty good friends with the police here; I've grown up with them," Graff said. "So it's crazy to have it hit so close to home."
Officer Ryan Morton, who was killed answering a 911 call Tuesday, was not one of the officers Graff knew.
Never miss a local story.
But for Graff and others in this town of about 8,800, the news of another fallen officer was difficult to take.
In August, 37-year-old Clinton police officer Gary Michael was shot to death during a traffic stop. At the time, it was the first officer to die in the line of duty in Clinton.
"It's just unbelievable," Graff said. "I mean, this is a small town. Nothing like this ever happens, and then it happens twice in a year. It does make you think."
Said Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri Highway Patrol: "It goes without saying that these officers put themselves in jeopardy on a daily basis. And especially for this community, it's going to have another healing process take place."
Clinton, along Missouri Highway 7, is a waypoint for Kansas City travelers headed to the Ozarks. Situated near Truman Lake, the town was founded in 1836 and named after DeWitt Clinton, the New York governor during the construction of the Erie Canal, according to the Henry County, Mo., Museum.
Bicycle enthusiasts also know Clinton as one of the westernmost points along the Katy Trail, the 237-mile recreational trail that stretches to St. Charles.
It's also a town that is grappling, like many others, with the opioid crisis. The Centers for Disease Control in 2015 found that Henry County, for which Clinton is the county seat, was among the highest Missouri counties for concentrations of opioid prescriptions filled.
Clinton was also the town where Adam Purinton fled to after shooting an immigrant from India in Olathe to death last year. Shortly after the shooting at Austins Bar & Grill in February 2017 and for reasons that remain unclear, Purinton somehow managed to leave Olathe and drive to an Applebee's in Clinton. There, he told a bartender he had committed the shooting.
Purinton this week pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Throughout Clinton on Wednesday, businesses and institutions flew flags at half staff or flew blue flags. As a sign of support for the police department, the blue flags were sent out to the Clinton community after Michael was shot in August.
On Wednesday, the flags came out again.
"We are such a tight-knit family," said Karen Conroy, who witnessed the latest shooting scene. "We have a great police department, one of the best.
"I'm feeling shock, along with everyone else," she said. "We're always going to find strength. It's always going to come out in numbers."