Updated on 3/29/2022: The wounded officer in critical condition, Officer Jake Reed, eventually succumbed to his injuries on Friday, March 11.
JOPLIN, Mo. – A Joplin police officer was killed and two others injured on Tuesday after multiple exchanges of gunfire with a fleeing suspect.
The shooter, Anthony R. Felix, 40, also was killed during the shootout.
Addressing a press conference, Chief Sloan Rowland said officers responded to a disturbance at the Northpark Shopping Center around 1:30 p.m. As the officers attempted to arrest Felix, who was identified as the source of the disturbance, he shot both of them and fled the scene in a stolen patrol car.
The suspect fired multiple shots at the pursuing officers from the stolen police vehicle before wrecking it and fleeing on foot to the area of Ninth St. and Connecticut Ave. From there, Felix fired additional shots and injured a third officer before being taken down.
“This is a violent and unwarranted attack on our officers, and is indicative of the rise in violence against law enforcement officers we are witnessing nationwide,” an emotional Rowland said at the press conference. “It has to stop. We are a large family at the Joplin Police Department, and today we are hurting.”
Felix, it has been discovered, also had a lengthy history of arrests and convictions. He was arrested and convicted of aggravated assault on an officer and resisting arrest in Maricopa, Arizona in 2019 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Another 2010 case saw Felix charged with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Theft or Receipt of Stolen Mail Matter before being charged for three additional counts in a separate case, both of which were felony charges.
As of Wednesday, one injured officer was in critical condition while the other was in stable condition, according to Rowland. The names of the two officers were being withheld while the police department contacted the appropriate family members.
The fallen officer was identified as Cpl. Benjamin Cooper, a veteran officer with almost 20 years served in law enforcement. Cooper leaves behind a wife and two daughters.
Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley ordered all flags on city buildings to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Cooper and the injured officers.
“The city of Joplin, encircle these most affected families in enduring love, support and prayer,” Stanley said at the press conference. “Please fully engage in the process of thanking these families for their sacrifices.
“As we confidently step into the future, let us show the Joplin Police Department and our first responders how much we respect their service and their sacrifice.”