An estimated 2,500 people attended Saturday’s funeral to pay their respects to a Clinton police officer who gave the ultimate sacrifice. 37-year-old Gary Michael was shot twice in the chest with a rifle on Sunday night after he pulled over a vehicle for a registration violation.
He’s the first officer in the town of about 9,000 people to die in the line of duty.
Michael’s service was held at the Benson Center in Clinton. Missourinet radio affiliate KDKD in Clinton said the center was filled and additional seating was opened up in an adjacent community center.
Michael served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. After leaving the Army, he pursued other careers. He followed in his family’s footsteps for a while by selling cars. During the funeral, his younger brother, Chris Michael, said it was evident that his brother had ambition to do more than sell cars.
“It wasn’t that Gary wasn’t good at it, it just didn’t satisfy his heart,” he said.
Chris Michael said being a police officer was his big brother’s dream job.
“Everyone has learned this week that my brother is a hero, but he’s been my hero for a long, long time,” said Chris Michael.
Governor Eric Greitens, R, also spoke at the service. He said police work is what Michael felt called to do.
“The day he went into give his resignation and to tell Greg, his boss, that he was going to become a police officer, Greg asked him why. Gary said ‘I want to try and make a difference.’ Today, we can say to officer Michael, mission accomplished, sir,” said Greitens.
A procession to the cemetery spanned for miles with law enforcement officers, soldiers, patriotic motorcyclists and others saluting along the route.
Two people have pleaded not guilty for their suspected roles in the shooting. Ian McCarthy, 39, has been charged with first-degree murder. William Grant Noble, 35, has been charged in connection with disposing of the rifle believed to have been used in the slaying.