Man shot, killed after wounding 3 police officers

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 10:52 a.m. CDT; updated 1:40 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis-area man suspected of wounding two sheriff's deputies in an ambush with an assault-style weapon was shot and killed Wednesday by authorities after he stabbed an arresting officer, a sheriff said.

The deputies had been responding to reports of gunfire at a home near O'Fallon, west of St. Louis, about 1 a.m. when someone fired on them from outside the house, St. Charles County Sheriff Thomas Neer said. One deputy was shot in the wrist and the other was shot twice in the arm, Neer said.

Law enforcers on the ground and in a police helicopter hunted for the shooter for four hours, he said. An assault-style weapon was found outside the home.

Richard Heeter, 61, of Wentzville, eventually emerged from hiding in a shrubby area near the house, seemingly antagonized and making "unfriendly gestures," Neer said. He walked toward police officers despite instructions to get on the ground, and he held a knife behind his back, Neer said.

Heeter then stabbed a St. Louis County police officer in the shoulder. Other officers opened fire, killing Heeter, Neer said.

The stabbed officer was treated at the scene, and the deputies' gunshot wounds were not considered life-threatening, he said.

"They really didn't have a chance," Neer said of his wounded deputies. "They approached as they're trained, from a distance. The subject didn't give them any opportunity at all to take any kind of cover."

At least one of those deputies returned fire, though it was unclear whether they managed to wound Heeter.

St. Charles County sheriff's Lt. David Tiefenbrunn said the unemployed Heeter had gone to the home to collect an unspecified debt. Neighbors later reported hearing gunfire and screaming, though no one at that home was injured, Tiefenbrunn said.

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