Arnold officer 'very critical', underwent surgery Thursday - KMOV.com

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Arnold officer 'very critical', underwent surgery Thursday

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Officer Ryan O'Connor remains in critical condition after being shot by a suspect in his patrol car (Credit: Arnold Police Department) Officer Ryan O'Connor remains in critical condition after being shot by a suspect in his patrol car (Credit: Arnold Police Department)
Police at St. Anthony's Medical Center after the shooting. Credit: KMOV Police at St. Anthony's Medical Center after the shooting. Credit: KMOV
Suspect Chad Klahs shot Officer O'Connor in his patrol car while being driven to the police station (Credit: St. Louis County police) Suspect Chad Klahs shot Officer O'Connor in his patrol car while being driven to the police station (Credit: St. Louis County police)
The scene of the shooting in the Arnold Police Department parking lot (Credit: KMOV) The scene of the shooting in the Arnold Police Department parking lot (Credit: KMOV)

ARNOLD, Mo (KMOV.com) -- An Arnold police officer who sustained life-threatening injuries after being shot by a suspect he was transporting to booking Tuesday underwent another round of surgery Thursday, in an attempt to save his life, according to police. 

The surgery was announced after 1:00 p.m. on the Arnold Police Department's Facebook page. The department says he was out of surgery at 6:00 p.m. They asked the community for prayers.

Authorities said Officer Ryan O'Connor was transporting suspect Chad Klahs, in custody for an alleged burglary, when Klahs shot him inside his patrol SUV. 

Arnold Police responded to a burglary on Bramtonn Place around 12:45 p.m. Police said Klahs stole a gun before he made his way across Jeffco Boulevard.

Matt Saller said he came face-to-face with Klahs in the Fox Pointe neighborhood in his backyard.

"He was off. You could tell he wasn't all there and he was scuffled and that's what worried me," Saller said.

Saller said he told Klahs to leave.

"He tripped over one of my lawn chairs as he was going out," Saller said.

Saller said he then watched Klahs wander onto his neighbor's property before he darted into the woods.

While searching for the suspect, officers reported hearing gunshots in the woods nearby. At that point, it wasn't clear if they were being fired upon, but they called the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office to assist. 

Shortly after making that call, the 29-year-old Klahs was found behind Zingers Mart on Jeffco Boulevard and arrested. Police searched him and recovered a weapon, but police now believe he had a second gun on him that went undiscovered.

O'Connor had Klahs in his vehicle when he headed back to the police station around 2 p.m. There was a cage separating the O'Connor from Klahs in the SUV, but there was enough space for a bullet to get through. 

The shooting happened in the parking lot behind the Arnold Police Department and police realized something was wrong when the O'Connor never made it to the sally port. 

"There was a delay. The cameras show the car going by the booking sally port behind the building," said Captain Gary Higginbotham with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. "And there was about a 45-second delay from what we understand, and they checked on the status and found the vehicle where it was."

Responding officers discovered both men inside the vehicle. O'Connor was shot once in the head. Klahs was also found suffering from a gunshot wound, which police believe was self-inflicted.

O'Connor and Klahs were taken to St. Anthony's Medical Center, and O'Connor was out of surgery and stable as of 6:30 p.m., but remained in critical condition.

Authorities announced Klahs died from his wounds sometime before 5 p.m.

O'Connor, 44, has been in law enforcement for 20 years and has previously worked for the St. Louis County and Ferguson police departments. He has worked in Arnold for around three years. 

Klahs had an extensive criminal record. According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, he was in prison four times; most recently released in March of this year.

He had previously pleaded guilty to burglary and threatening a witness to his crime. That witness reported receiving several threatening phone calls from Klahs, every day, three and four times an hour. Klahs reportedly threatened to "kill him" and "shoot up his house." 

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is handling the investigation.

BackStoppers announced they have donated $5,000 to O'Connor's family. A GoFundMe page has also been set up for O'Connor. 

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