Suspect caught in shooting that left 1 officer dead, 1 hurt

Posted at 9:10 PM, March 13, 2023 and last updated 5:13 PM, May 11, 2023

HERMANN, Mo. (AP) — The search for the man suspected of killing one small-town Missouri police officer and badly injuring another ended Monday after police fired tear gas into the home, and arrested the man when he came outside.

The shooting happened about 9:30 p.m. Sunday at a convenience store in Hermann, a town of 2,100 residents about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of St. Louis. Detective Sgt. Mason Griffith of the Hermann Police Department died, and Officer Adam Sullentrup, 31, was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

A tactical unit from the Missouri Highway Patrol moves to enter a home where a man was believed to be hiding after being accused of shooting two Hermann police officers Sunday night, on Monday, March 13, 2023. The tactical officers moved debris from the front door and retreated. The shooting about 9:30 p.m. Sunday killed Detective Sgt. Mason Griffith of the Hermann Police Department. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the shooting happened after the officers went into the convenience store to arrest 35-year-old Kenneth Lee Simpson of St. Louis County on multiple outstanding warrants. Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Mitchell said the officers were shot in an altercation inside the store. Authorities wouldn’t say if either officer returned fire.

Simpson left the store, and authorities weren’t initially sure where he went. By early Monday, police surrounded a home along Highway 19 not far from the shooting site. TV video at midday showed a police robot being used to pull off the front screen door, then a drone was sent in.

The patrol confirmed Monday afternoon that Simpson was taken into custody after a police tactical team fired tear gas into a house, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Robert Koerber, who was Hermann’s mayor when Griffith was hired seven years ago, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Griffith was a natural as a police officer, someone people trusted.

“He was one of my favorite officers because he had such an easy and effective style,” Koerber said. “He seemed to take a personal interest in people. He was interested in whatever your problem was.”

Online Missouri court records show Simpson has a long history of criminal charges involving drugs, weapons offenses, assault and property damage. A St. Louis County judge issued a warrant for Simpson’s arrest in August when he failed to show up in court in a drug possession case.

Hermann is town known for its annual German festivals is the county seat of Gasconade County. The local school district canceled classes Monday as a precaution.

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