Officers from Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop A, which includes Pettis County, were given the Meritorious Service Award during a MSHP ceremony April 14, after being involved in a shooting with a suspect accused of murder.
According to reports, on June 1, 2011, a statewide bulletin announced a suspect from St. Joseph was believed to have killed his pregnant wife while his other two children were in the residence. Additional information led authorities to believe the suspect was on Interstate 70 near Concordia.
When the suspect vehicle passed Sgt. Mark DeGraffenreid, he followed without emergency equipment activated to allow backup to arrive and kept following him when he exited onto south U.S. 65 Highway. At this time, Cpl. Ryan Smith was driving north from Sedalia to assist in the arrest. He moved to the southbound lanes and deployed a tire deflation device in the event the suspect fled from the initial traffic stop.
Seeing this, DeGraffenreid activated his emergency lights to initiate the stop. The suspect drove into the median crossover, stopped, then began firing multiple rounds at DeGraffenreid, hitting his patrol vehicle several times. DeGraffenreid stopped and returned fire as the suspect fled in the northbound lanes of U.S. 65 Highway at a high rate of speed. Trooper Doug Fessenden arrived and joined the pursuit.
Just past the I-70/U.S. 65 interchange, the suspect fired multiple rounds at southbound traffic, hitting three vehicles and two drivers. When his vehicle’s right rear tire became flat, the suspect pulled to the shoulder and kept firing at the officers, shattering a windshield, dashboard and steering wheel. By this time, Smith had arrived on scene and as he exited his car, a round shattered his driver’s door window.
DeGraffenreid and Fessenden returned cover fire, re-entered their vehicles, and put distance between themselves and the threat. After a period of time with no shots fired by the suspect, it was determined he had taken his own life.
The investigation revealed a scoped .223-caliber assault rifle with a dual drum magazine capable of holding 100 rounds of ammunition in addition to a Glock located in the suspect’s possession.
MSHP Trooper Fred Guthrie Jr., also from Troop A, was honored with the Memorial Award. Guthrie, 46, was killed in action when he was swept away by swift flood water while working near Big Lake on Missouri 118 Highway in Holt County in August. His body was recovered Jan. 12. Guthrie is the 30th member of the MSHP to be killed in the line of duty. He is survived by his wife, Teresa, and three children, Amber, Dylan, and Cody.