Officer Ryan O’Connor suffered life-threatening injuries while transporting a burglary suspect to the Arnold Police Department on Tuesday afternoon. Officials with BackStoppers immediately came to the aid of O’Connor’s family with an initial $5,000 gift.
“We understand the burdens placed on spouses and children when events such as these occur,” said Chief Ron Battelle, executive director of The BackStoppers. “Officer O’Connor is a man dedicated to protecting others. Now, we have an obligation to care for his loved ones and have given his family $5,000 to help during this critical time.”
Investigators say officers responded to a burglary at an Arnold residence near Jeffco Boulevard. After a search of the area, police located the suspect, 29-year-old Chad Klahs, in front of an Arnold pawnshop. A gun that Klahs allegedly stole in the home burglary was confiscated by police during his arrest. He was then handcuffed and transported to the Arnold Police Department by O’Connor.
Upon arriving at the police department, Klahs managed to shoot the officer in the head while handcuffed. Klahs then turned the gun on himself, according to police. Klahs died of his injuries.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Captain Gary Higginbotham says police were unaware that Klahs was in possession of a second gun that was apparently stolen from a vehicle before his arrest.
O’Connor was rushed to St. Anthony’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
Arnold Police posted the following Facebook message following O’Connor’s surgery:
Thank you. That is simply all we have the strength to say right now. Against all odds our officer has fought through the horrific incidents that occurred earlier today and remains in stable condition. Please continue to hold him, his family, and the men and women of this department in your thoughts and prayers. We will do our best to provide updates on his status, but he will undoubtedly face a long and challenging path ahead of him. Again, thank you for the concern, the support, and the kindness that has been extended to our department.
O’Connor is a 3-year veteran of the Arnold Police Department. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and previously worked for the St. Louis County and Ferguson Police Departments. He has a wife and three children.
The BackStoppers, founded in 1959, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its sole mission is providing financial assistance and support to the spouses and dependent children of first responders who have lost their lives or suffered a catastrophic injury in the line of duty. To make a donation or for more information about The BackStoppers, go to www.BackStoppers.org or call (314) 692-0200.