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Neighbors recall horrifying gun battle where Clinton Officer Ryan Morton was killed

Witnesses in Clinton, Mo. talk of gunshots, blood and chaos

Neighbors who witnessed the shooting scene in Clinton, Mo. on Tuesday night talk of multiple gunshots, an officer bleeding from his arm and pleadings for their wounded officer inside the house to hang on. Officer Christopher Morton, 30, was killed
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Neighbors who witnessed the shooting scene in Clinton, Mo. on Tuesday night talk of multiple gunshots, an officer bleeding from his arm and pleadings for their wounded officer inside the house to hang on. Officer Christopher Morton, 30, was killed

In terror, neighbors watched a horrifying gun battle outside their windows, seeing wounded Clinton, Mo., police officers shepherded to safety under fire, and learning later that one officer was dead.

Sometimes in tears, they recounted a scene that played out for hours before officers could go in the home to retrieve the slain officer, Ryan Morton. The alleged gunman, James E. Waters, also was dead.

Sheryl Long, who lives directly across the street of the one-story home at 306 W. Grandriver, witnessed the entire scene. She heard gunshots around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday and stepped outside.

She could see the body of the dying officer in a back hallway.

She heard officers outside shouting to Morton.

"Hang on buddy, we're here, we're here," Long said they yelled. "Stay with us, stay with us!"

They begged, even pleaded, with Waters to let them tend to their fallen officer.

''Please let us get our wounded officer out. There is no need for anyone else to get hurt. There's been enough damage," Long recounting them yelling.



At least 50 troopers, deputies and officers surrounded the home, which is outfitted with five roof-top cameras and two motion detectors.

The block was quickly filled with a swarm of law officers from multiple departments, and Long saw the fire flashing from the ends of their gun barrels.

Five of the officers used Long's house to shield themselves from the gunman. An officer later called her and told her to move to the back of the house.

She complied and waited several hours as the officers continued to exchange gunfire -- at least 20 to 30 gunshots -- and plead with Waters to get to their officer.

"They kept calling his name," Long said. "It was very sad, so senseless."



Officer Christopher Ryan Morton web
Clinton Police Officer Christopher Ryan Morton was fatally shot answering a disturbance call late Tuesday. Courtesy of the Missouri Highway Patrol



It was two to three hours before they were able to get to Morton, Long and other witnesses said.


Wednesday morning, the front porch of the house was littered with glass. The front window was shot out, its broken and shattered blinds hanging over the sill.


The front yard was gouged and the front walk busted by the giant tread tracks of a heavy armored police vehicle that had driven up into the yard during the gun battle.


The house was the scene of a lot of traffic in and out, said neighbor Christina Littleton.


James E. Waters mugshot
James Earl Waters Cass County Sheriff's Office

Tammy Widger, who was in the house and arrested Wednesday morning, lived there for at least six years, and the man identified as Waters lived there off and on for at least that long as well. Waters had been seen coming and going a lot in the past few days, she said.

widger.jpg
Tammy Widger, 37, has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Clinton Officer Ryan Morton. Henry County Sheriff's Office

Karen Conroy, who lives on the block, heard the first gun shot and was horrified by what she saw.

More gun shots sounded and she heard a woman screaming.

"It kept going, boom, boom, boom."

Then she saw two officers bring a wounded officer by her house toward an ambulance at the corner.

The escorting officers each had an arm around the wounded officer, "but he kept collapsing," Conroy said. "They kept trying to pick him up."

"It was so sad."

Littleton's brother, Anthony Haverland, 25, heard a big boom and then about five seconds later he saw an officer emptying his clip into the house from outside the house.

Neighbors saw two officers come out of the house. One was tying off the bloodied left arm of the other officer.

Haverland said shooting continued inside the house for an hour or hour and a half. Teams of tactical officers surrounded the house and yelled 30 or 40 times for the suspect to surrender, to come out of the house with his hands up.











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