Joplin, MO – Joplin Police Department (JPD) Corporal Benjamin “Ben” Cooper was murdered in the line of duty Tuesday afternoon while responding to a disturbance near a shopping center.
The incident began at about 1:22 p.m. on March 8 in the area of 4th and Rangeline Road near the Northpark Crossing shopping center, according to The Joplin Globe.
When police attempted to take him into custody, the gunman opened fire, wounding two of the officers, Assistant Chief Lewis said.
The suspect then jumped behind the wheel of a patrol car and fled the scene, according to KOAM.
Police pursued the gunman to the area of Connecticut Avenue and 9th Street, where he crashed the stolen patrol vehicle and took off on foot.
Witness Kim Jenkins, who lives on the corner of Carolina and Connecticut Avenues, said she looked outside after hearing sirens in her neighborhood and spotted a man with a gun hiding behind her neighbor’s fence across the street, The Joplin Globe reported.
When an officer in a patrol vehicle came flying down the road a moment later, Jenkins stepped outside her front door and tried to wave down the officer to show him the suspect’s hiding place, but she was unsure if he saw her or not.
The suspect then ran over towards a nearby apartment building just as the officer spun around and headed back up the street, Jenkins told The Joplin Globe.
The officer pulled to a stop directly in front of a van the gunman was using as cover and immediately came under fire, she explained.
“I don’t think he even had time to get out [of his car] when the guy started shooting,” Jenkins told The Joplin Globe.
The gunman appeared to shoot right through the windshield of the cruiser, she said.
Additional officers arrived just after the shooting and returned fire, striking the suspect multiple times.
Jenkins said she saw the gunman collapse to the ground, The Joplin Globe reported.
The gunman and all three wounded officers were transported to area hospitals, according to KOAM.
The JPD confirmed Tuesday night that the suspect died from his wounds, The Joplin Globe reported.
He was later identified by police as 40-year-old Anthony Felix.
JPD Chief Sloan Rowland confirmed during a press conference Wednesday that one of the wounded officers was listed in serious but stable condition, and that a second officer was listed in critical condition.
Their identities were not immediately released.
Jasper County Coroner Randy Nace confirmed late Tuesday night that the third officer had succumbed to his wounds, KOAM reported.
Chief Rowland publicly identified the fallen officer as Cpl. Cooper during a press conference with Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards and Mayor Ryan Stanley the following day.
“This is a tragic day for the Joplin Police Department and the city of Joplin as a whole,” Chief Rowland told reporters. “We are a very large extended family at the Joplin police department and today we’re hurting and we’re feeling that throughout the community.”
“This was a violent and unwarranted attack on our officers and is indicative of the rise in violence against law enforcement we are witnessing nationwide,” he continued. “It has to stop.”
Cpl. Cooper joined the JPD in 2003 and later transferred to a sheriff’s department in Colorado, according to the chief.
He returned to the JPD in 2013 and was promoted to the rank of corporal three years later.
Cpl. Cooper leaves behind his wife and two daughters.
Edwards asked the public to reflect with him on “the heroism of the Joplin Police Department,” in addition to the tragic loss of Cpl. Cooper and the impact this incident has had on “many lives and families.”
Stanley has ordered all flags be lowered to half staff in honor of Cpl. Cooper and his fellow wounded officers.
“Every day we are called to honor the sacrifices of our bravest and today we are reminded why,” the mayor said. “Corporal Cooper made the greatest sacrifice for the city yesterday.”
Fallen officer Cpl Ben Cooper was honored in an Officer Spotlight by JPD in February of 2020. pic.twitter.com/hdmD9aWDE2
— Jessica Schaer (@JessSchaer) March 9, 2022
— Kimberly Barker (@GlobeNews_hound) March 9, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Joplin Police Department, the families of Corporal Benjamin Cooper and the injured officers, and the entire Joplin community. pic.twitter.com/3aIe2f3ssO
— Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (@OzarksBlood) March 9, 2022
Corporal Ben Cooper was shot and killed in the line of duty yesterday in Joplin, Missouri.
Two other Joplin officers remain hospitalized. One is in critical condition and the other is in serious but stable condition. We continue to pray for these officers and their familes. pic.twitter.com/zPrrjA00fY
— Missouri FOP (@MissouriFOP) March 9, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Joplin Police Department Corporal Ben Cooper, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Corporal Benjamin Cooper, your life mattered.