Arnold, MO – A handcuffed suspect shot an Arnold police officer in the head from the back of the police vehicle he was being transported in on Tuesday.
Police said 29-year-old Chad Klahs had been arrested on Dec. 5 and was being taken to the police station for booking when he drew a weapon the officer had not found during his search of the suspect, and shot Officer Ryan O’Connor in the back of the head as he drove.
Officer O’Connor lost control of his police SUV and it crashed into the back of the Arnold police station.
The suspect shot himself in the head after he shot Officer O’Connor, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Captain Gary Higginbotham said.
Officer O’Connor was rushed to St. Anthony’s Medical Center where he was immediately taken into surgery. Klaus was pronounced dead at the same hospital.
The suspect was being transported by Officer O'Connor, 44, after he was arrested in a burglary investigation at a home not far from the police station, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Capt. Higginbotham said a gun was taken in the burglary, and Klahs reportedly broke into a random vehicle as he was attempting to run from police, and stole another gun from that car.
Police took one gun from Klahs when they searched him prior to putting him in the back of Officer O’Connor’s police vehicle, but missed the second weapon he had concealed.
Officers inside the Arnold Police Department station house, located at 2101 Jeffco Boulevard, said they saw Officer O'Connor's SUV approach the sally port, where suspects are brought inside, on a surveillance camera.
When Officer O'Connor didn't come inside, officers went out and found his SUV crashed into a fuel tank, and both the officer and the burglary suspect suffering from gunshot wounds, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The officer's condition "does not look good," Capt. Higginbotham said Tuesday evening.
Officer O'Connor has been with the Arnold police for about three years, and had previously worked in St. Louis County and Ferguson, police said.
Records from the Missouri Department of Correction showed that Klahs has an extensive criminal record. He has been in prison four times, and was most recently released in March after serving two years, KMOV reported.
He pleaded guilty to burglary charges from 2009, and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He served a little more than one year before being granted parole.
In 2012, he stole an Xbox from a woman’s home, and also tampered with a witness.
According to KMOV, the victim was a witness to one of Klahs’ crimes, and reported receiving several threatening phone calls every day, three or four times an hour. Klahs threatened to “kill him” and “shoot up” his house, records said.
Klahs has also pleaded guilty to drug charges.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer O’Connor and his family, and the Arnold Police Department.