An officer shot during a traffic stop in a town near St. Louis, Missouri, was described as kind-hearted, outgoing, and a “centerpiece” of the police department by friends and colleagues.
Michael Flamion was shot in the neck during a traffic stop in Ballwin, about 20 miles from Ferguson, on Friday, shortly after a sniper killed five police officers and injured seven others in Dallas, Texas. Flamion is expected to survive.
“Make no mistake, we believe... that [Flamion] was ambushed, period,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. “It is an unfortunate state of events.”
Ballwin police chief Kevin B. Scott said in a video that Flamion was “ambushed and shot.”
“Officer Flamian is highly regarded by everyone in our department,” Scott added, thanking the community for the outpouring of support.
“His sense of humor and professional demeanor make him a centerpiece of our department,” Scott said. “Mike is an outstanding officer whom the citizens of Ballwin should be proud to call their own.”
According to police, Flamion was followed and shot during a routine traffic stop on Friday. After taking down the information of a car he’d stopped for speeding, Flamion returned to his police vehicle. At that point, authorities say, a man exited the vehicle and fired at the police officer three times.
The suspect has been identified as 31-year-old Antonio Taylor, whose rap sheet includes weapons charges. He spent more than half of the last decade in prison and was on probation when he allegedly shot Flamion, FOX2 reported.
Taylor fled the scene but was swiftly apprehended. He faces charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action, and unlawful possession of a firearm. All of the charges are felonies, and his bail has been set at $500,000.
A woman who lives near the scene of the shooting found the bleeding officer and offered him help. She held a towel to his neck wound until a nurse arrived to perform CPR.
“I tried to help the officer,” the unidentified woman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just hope he’s OK.”
Reached by phone, friends of Flamion told The Daily Beast they were waiting for the family’s permission to release information about the officer. But a GoFundMe page set up by Flamion’s police department colleagues raised nearly $70,000 by Sunday afternoon.
Flamion served with the De Soto police department for seven years before joining the force in Ballwin two years ago.
“While Mike was here, he was truly an asset to our agency and community; he is the type of man that would give you the shirt off his back,” De Soto Police Department Chief Rick Draper said in a statement.
In an interview with the Leader newspaper, Draper said that many of the De Soto officers remained close to Flamion after he left the department.
“This is someone we’re still close to. He’s a friend, he’s someone we’ve shared beers with and laughs with,” Draper said. “I’ve talked to my officers and stressed that this can happen anywhere, and that they have to stay vigilant. They have to be extra cautious when they’re making traffic stops.
“For the time being, we’re having two units respond to every call. We can’t be too careful,” he added.
“I’m sorry [you’re] living out your truest nightmare,” friend Erin Priester wrote to his parents. “Mike you are lucky to have one of the strongest and largest support systems behind you. I’m praying for your recovery.”