Gary Michael served as a military police officer out of high school for a half a decade. But several years later, in his 30s, he felt the call to serve again.
This time, he became a police officer in Appleton City, Mo., for a short time before joining the Clinton, Mo., force last year.
Michael, 37, wanted to be a police officer in his hometown.
“He really had a heart to serve,” said his brother, Chris Michael. “He loved it so much.”
Gary Michael on Sunday night became the first Clinton officer to die in the line of duty. A manhunt is on for a suspect, Ian McCarthy, 39, who allegedly shot Michael during a traffic stop.
Michael grew up in the Kansas City area before moving to Clinton in the early 1990s, when he was high school.
His father ran a car dealership in Olathe and wanted his children — two daughters and two sons — to grow up on a farm.
After graduating from Clinton High, Michael joined the U.S. Army, serving as a military police officer for about five years. He was stationed in Germany and Egypt.
After leaving the Army, Michael returned to Clinton and spent some time working in the family car and real estate business until he felt pulled to serve again, Chris Michael said.
After the police academy, Gary Michael spent a short time as an officer in Appleton City before a job opened up for him in Clinton.
“He was super happy,” Chris Michael said.
By the time he was on the force, Gary Michael was married. His wife, Cindy, had three children and a grandchild.
The family had recently gotten a boat, and spent weekends taking the children out on Truman Lake — the same lake where Michael and his brother and had grown up fishing.
On Monday, Michael’s family gathered to sort through what had happened the night before.
Many questions needed answering — for them, for the police, for those making arrangements for a funeral.
As the manhunt went on for the man accused of shooting Michael, his brother focused on the family.
“There’s no prouder little brother in the world right now,” Chris said.
Gary Michael had stopped a 2008 Dodge Nitro for a registration violation about 10:45 p.m. Sunday near the intersection of East Green Street and North Second Street (Missouri 13).
As Michael exited his patrol vehicle, McCarthy also got out of the Dodge Nitro and allegedly fired a shot at Michael, striking him, said Sgt. Bill Lowe, a spokesman with the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Michael returned fire, but it was unknown if McCarthy was hit. McCarthy allegedly fled the scene in the SUV and crashed about three blocks later. He then reportedly fled on foot.
Michael was rushed to a hospital where he died from his injuries.
A “routine traffic stop” is a misnomer, Lowe said. Police officers are always mindful that something bad could happen.
“Every traffic stop is different,” he said. “Every traffic stop yields its own issues sometimes. We know as police officers that those traffic stops are always dangerous because we don’t know the individual that is driving. We don’t know the individuals in the car.”
As news of the fatal shooting of Michael spread, local law enforcement agencies turned to social media to express their condolences.