ARNOLD, Mo. (AP) — A burglary suspect shot and critically wounded a suburban St. Louis police officer while handcuffed and in the back of a police SUV, then apparently fatally shot himself, police said Tuesday.
Arnold, Missouri, officer Ryan O'Connor underwent surgery for what police describe as life-threatening injuries after being shot in the head. Police said the 29-year-old suspect, Chad Klahs of Arnold, died of a gunshot wound to the head, a wound that Jefferson County Sheriff's Capt. Gary Higginbotham described as "apparently self-inflicted."
The shooting happened at the police department in Arnold, a town of about 21,000 people 15 miles (24.14 kilometers) south of St. Louis. O'Connor, 44, is a 20-year law enforcement veteran. He was in surgery at St. Anthony's Medical Center in St. Louis County.
Higgonbotham said Klahs was "very well known to police" for a criminal history that included unlawful use of a weapon.
Police were initially called to a report of gun stolen from a home. Higginbotham said the suspect ran into the woods and police heard shots fired, though it wasn't clear if shots were fired at them.
The suspect was arrested a short time later near a gas station. Higginbotham said a gun was confiscated at that time.
"Apparently he had another (gun) on him," Higginbotham said, a weapon taken in a car burglary in the same area.
The suspect was handcuffed and was being brought in for booking at the police station. Officers inside watched on camera as the black police SUV approached an area of the building where suspects are brought inside.
When the officer and suspect never came inside, officers went out and found the SUV crashed and both men wounded inside the vehicle after it crashed into a diesel fuel tank. The suspect was in the back of the SUV. It wasn't clear how he was able to shoot with the handcuffs on.
Arnold Police Chief Robert Shockey said O'Connor has worked for the Arnold department for about three years after previous stints in Ferguson, Missouri, and St. Louis County.