SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri police officer shot and killed Sunday night as he tried to stop a mass shooter who killed three others inside a convenience store is being lauded for his bravery.
Springfield police Officer Christopher Ryan Walsh, 32, was among four people gunned down by Joaquin S. Roman, according to authorities. The other victims killed at the Kum & Go were Troy D. Rapp, 57, Shannon R. Perkins, 46, and Matthew J. Hicks-Morris, 22, all of Springfield.
Roman, 31, also of Springfield, then turned his gun on himself. He died at the scene.
“In essence, we had a roving active shooter moving from the south side of the city up -- we think up Ingram Mill and over to Highway 65 and then to Chestnut, where it ended at the Kum & Go,” Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said during a Monday morning news conference.
Roman crashed his vehicle at the store and got out, walked into the building and opened fire. Rapp was an employee at the store and Perkins was a worker with WCA Waste Corp., Springfield police officials said.
Hicks-Morris was a customer in the store.
Police officials said Tuesday that no motive for the shooting has been determined. Roman has no prior criminal record that investigators are aware of.
“We do not yet have a motive, but figuring out those details is a priority in the investigation,” Springfield Police Department spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey told the Springfield News-Leader.
Detectives believe Roman acted alone in the shooting, which the newspaper described as the deadliest in recent southwest Missouri history.
Walsh and fellow Officer Josiah Overton were the first police officers to arrive at the scene, Williams said. Both were struck by gunfire.
The police chief struggled to hold back tears as he announced Walsh’s death and Overton’s injuries, which were not life-threatening.
“Both of these officers showed significant bravery, were heroic in their actions, and we ask that you respect their families’ privacy at this time,” Williams said.
Overton and a fourth victim, who was critically injured inside the store, were hospitalized for treatment. Williams said Overton is a two-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department.
Walsh, who was on the force for more than three years, was a U.S. Army veteran who was active in the Army Reserves. He is survived by his wife, Sheri Walsh, and their young daughter.
“Chris was a model of the quiet courage and a sincere humility that his nation, community and family was blessed to have and saddened to lose,” Walsh’s obituary said. “During his 14 years of honorable service to his nation, Chris served in two active deployments to a combat zone, where he received a Combat Action Badge and other decorations for his selfless service.”
Williams’ description and police scanner traffic, archived at Broadcastify.com, offer a vivid picture of the intense 15 minutes of bloodshed that left Walsh, the three victims inside the store and the gunman dead. The first call about gunfire came in around 11:24 p.m. from the area of Battlefield Road and Lone Pine Avenue, about 5 miles from the convenience store.
A 911 dispatcher tells officers in the audio that the shots came from a moving vehicle. The caller described it as a gold Pontiac Grand Prix.
“As far as we know, nothing was hit and no one injured at this time that we are aware of,” a male dispatcher says.
Additional callers told dispatchers it appeared a black sedan may also have been involved and that occupants of that car and the Grand Prix may have been shooting at one another. Officers can be heard on the radio discussing both vehicles as they search for the shooter.
Officers can also be heard setting up a perimeter and trying to get K-9s to the scene to track the shooter. After several minutes, dispatchers received calls about gunfire at two more locations.
“We are just receiving now multiple calls for shots in the area of 2120 S. Ingram Mill, the Woodgate Apartments, as well,” a dispatcher says. “Had several shots that just occurred.”
Moments later, dispatchers received calls from the area of Sunshine Street and U.S. 65, where witnesses said the driver of a car was shooting at people.
“The vehicle was shooting out of a window going northbound at 65 and exited at Sunshine for a small, dark-colored, two-door car,” a dispatcher says. “I believe that’s going to be our suspect vehicle.”
No one was injured in either of those shootings. A few minutes later, officers and dispatchers can be heard discussing a possible sighting of the suspect vehicle on East Chestnut Expressway.
Watch Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams give a statement about the shooting below, courtesy of the News-Leader.
Around 11:43 p.m., the call came in about Roman crashing his vehicle at the Kum & Go, located at 2885 E. Chestnut Expressway, Williams said.
“Shots are being fired right now,” a female dispatcher says in the audio. “Sounds like someone has been shot. We are starting medical that way.”
Multiple officers are heard informing the dispatcher they are en route. Sirens can be heard as they race toward the convenience store.
A male dispatcher tells officers the caller reporting the convenience store shooting can still hear gunshots coming from inside the store.
Walsh and Overton were fired upon immediately after they arrived, Williams said.
“Two-twenty-four, I’ve been shot!” one of the officers shouts into his radio.
“Clear, 224’s been shot,” the female dispatcher responds in a tight voice.
An emergency tone can be heard on the audio. A few moments later, the dispatcher tries to get a status from the officer, but there is no response.
“Clear, shots fired at 224 at 2885 E. Chestnut Expressway, Kum & Go. One officer shot,” the dispatcher announces.
Multiple additional officers, including those working on the perimeter, are routed to the scene. More sirens can be heard screaming toward the convenience store.
Paramedics are also dispatched immediately.
“Get an entry team started now,” an officer tells the dispatcher breathlessly. “Shields, everything.”
A few minutes later, the entry team arrives and pulls the wounded officers to safety. Someone asks if the shooter had been contained.
“No,” a male officer responds.
“It’s still active,” a female officer says.
“Clear, still an active shooting,” the dispatcher responds.
A moment later, another officer describes the scene.
“The shooter’s still inside. It is active,” he says. “We need somebody in the back. We got an officer down.”
Two officers respond that they are in the back but say the door is locked and they cannot get inside.
An officer can be heard saying the shooter is inside the store an unknown location. He seems to describe the man as wearing a camouflage jacket.
The radio goes quiet for several seconds before an officer gives an update.
“Advise everybody arriving on the scene the shooter is shooting out the window,” the officer says. “The officer was shot from inside the store, outside. Take cover behind vehicles.”
The dispatcher relays that information to officers approaching the store. Another officer comes on the radio and says they need an entry team.
“We need units with a shield and somebody going in. We don’t know how many victims we have,” the officer says.
Officers with shields prepare to enter the store as colleagues set up a staging area a couple of blocks away. All approaching backup units are told to report there because the scene is not yet secure.
“I’m ready to go,” one officer outside the store says. Another officer says she and a third officer are on the west side with a shield.
The entry team went inside to find Roman dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Williams.
A dispatcher announces the shooter appears to be down.
“Springfield advising the shooter’s down,” an officer says.
An officer states over the radio that the officer wounded, Overton, was alert and conscious on the way from the scene.
Walsh died at the hospital, Williams said Monday.
“Chris died a hero, rushing in without regard to his own safety to protect members of his community,” the chief said in a statement. “His courageous actions serve as an example to us all.”
Walsh, a Springfield native, was remembered by a friend and colleague as “one of the best (they) had.”
“Forever a hero and I’m glad to have worked alongside him for more than two years,” Jacob Levi wrote on Facebook. “A night shifter, like me, at heart. He fought the good fight and paid the ultimate price so that others may sleep peacefully at night.”
Walsh’s obituary echoed the sentiments.
“Although those that knew Chris well would agree that he was indeed the best of us, Chris would have preferred that his legacy was made apparent through our future actions to each other rather than dwelling on his absence,” the obituary read.
His family described him as “devoid of vanity” and devoted to serving others.
“Chris would hope that his memory would serve as an example to spur small kindnesses and acts of devotion and service to all of our community, friends and loved ones,” the obituary said. “To look past the things that separate us and to focus on the things that unite us.”
Walsh is the first Springfield police officer killed in the line of duty since 1932, according to the News-Leader.
Those who knew the other victims remembered them in interviews with the newspaper.
Hicks-Morris’ sister, Cierrah Hicks, told the News-Leader her brother moved to Springfield from Florida in July 2018.
“He was a pure, genuine soul,” Hicks said. “He was the best man any of us had in our life. We (lost) both our parents, and he was all me and my (little) sister had left.
“He was perfect. He was real.”
Perkins, who was doing his duties for the waste company he worked for when he was killed, was remembered by a friend as a devoted father.
“He was a hero on earth and he will continue to be a hero in heaven watching down on everyone,” Crystal Page told the newspaper. “He was just a good guy.”
Friends also described Rapp, who was on duty at the Kum & Go that night, as a fun man with a contagious laugh who didn’t know a stranger, the newspaper said.
Kum & Go officials released a statement Monday in which they expressed gratitude to the first responders and said they would continue to support the investigation into the shooting.
“There are no words to express the shock and sorrow many of us are feeling,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and their friends and families.”
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