A manhunt was underway Monday morning after a Clinton, Missouri, police officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop late Sunday.

The Missouri Highway Patrol was looking for Ian McCarthy, 39, of Clinton. Originally, he was being called a person-of-interest in the fatal shooting, but later was being called a suspect.

It was his Dodge Nitro that was pulled over and later found wrecked near the shooting, said Sgt. Bill Lowe, a spokesman with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The Missouri Highway Patrol identified the officer killed in the line of duty as Officer Gary Michael, 37. Michael had been with the police department for less than one year, Lowe said.

Michael had stopped a Dodge Nitro for a registration violation about 10:45 p.m. Sunday along near the intersection of East Green Street and North Second Street (Missouri 13).

As Michael exited his patrol vehicle, McCarthy also got out of the Dodge Nitro and allegedly fired a shot at Michael, striking him, Lowe said.

Michael returned fire, but it was unknown if McCarthy was hit. McCarthy fled the scene in the car and crashed about three blocks later. He then fled on foot.

Michael was rushed to a hospital where he died from his injuries. A manhunt was underway for McCarthy.

Originally, Lowe said they were trying to find McCarthy because his car was involved in the traffic stop.

“We want to make sure we are diligent in finding where he is,” Lowe said. “I’m sure he has information about this incident so we are currently still searching for him.”

About 8:30 a.m., the Missouri Highway Patrol said via Twitter that McCarthy was the suspect in the fatal shooting.

A “routine traffic stop” is a misnomer, Lowe said. Police officers are always mindful that something bad could happen.

“Every traffic stop is different,” he said. “Every traffic stop yields its own issues sometimes. We know as police officers that those traffic stops are always dangerous because we don’t know the individual that is driving. We don’t know the individuals in the car.”

“He has already made one killing and decided that’s in his mindset,” Lowe said. “You want to make sure you keep your distance but contact us.”

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