Clinton grapples with association to tragedy

Posted at 11:10 PM, Mar 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-09 00:14:13-05

CLINTON, Mo. — For the second time in less than a year, residents of Clinton find themselves coming together in the face of tragedy.

The city, home to around 9,000 people, continues to be home to many local businesses and families.

For those who call Clinton home, they know it stands for so much good.

“We moved here 30 years ago saying we were going to be here for four or five years,” explained resident Mary Cupp. “Now it’s home.” 

Cupp is the owner of a quilt and fabric shop in downtown Clinton.

She knows fellow store owners on the historic downtown square well and often attracts regular customers into her shop.

“We’ve tried to build our business to be the place where people come and have a cup of coffee,” she explained. “This is one of those places that if you want to get back to the hometown feel, this is where it’s at.”

Others around town who spoke to 41 Action News on Thursday echoed Cupp’s feelings for Clinton.

Restaurant manager Calvin Stafford Jr. said he often welcomes law enforcement officers inside for a meal.

“We have a lot of officers come in,” he explained. “Police officers come in here. The sheriff’s department comes in. The police department comes in here.”

Following a tragic shooting this week, the city is now once again dealing with heartbreak.

On Tuesday night, Ofc. Christopher Ryan Morton was shot and killed while responding to a call in the city.

Days after the tragedy, signs of support could be seen around town; from American flags to Thin Blue Line posters and blue ribbons.

The death of Morton came seven months to the day Officer Gary Lee Michael was shot and killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop.

Many people around town were still recovering from Michael’s death when Tuesday’s shooting occurred.

“This time, we knew what to do,” Mary Cupp explained. “Why should we know what to do? That’s not who we are.”

With some now associating tragedy with Clinton, downtown business owners know the city stands for so much more.

“It can happen to any city,” Stafford explained. “It’s just one of those freak accidents that’s happened and we have to get beyond it.”

However, the recent tragedy now shines a light on the unity that Mary Cupp said has always been present in Clinton.

“(The shooting) is a large part for those families and for the community,” she said. “However, it’s just a small part of who we are.”

The unity of Clinton is expected to be on full display in the coming days.

On Sunday, the town will come together for a visitation for Morton.

His funeral will be held Monday morning at the Benton Convention Center in the city.