Police & Courts

Former Center city clerk charged in shooting with Ralls County deputies

By FORREST GOSSET
fgossett@courierpost.com
Special to The Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 21, 2019 5:10 pm

PARIS, Mo. -- The former Center city clerk was arrested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Thursday morning on four felony charges related to an exchange of gunfire July 2 with Ralls County sheriff's deputies.

Wearing an orange prisoner jump suit, Tracey Marie Ray was arraigned Thursday afternoon from the Pike County Jail via video conference before Monroe County District Court Associate Judge Michael Wilson, who has been assigned the case.

Ray was charged by the Missouri Attorney General's Office with felonies in firing shots that resulted in injuries to Ralls County Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie and Chief Deputy Ronald Haught. She faces two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action.

Ray faces up to life in prison on each of the assault counts. The armed criminal action charges carry penalties of no fewer than three years without possibility of parole.

Ray's bond was set at $100,000 cash-only, and she is set for a bond review Wednesday.

According to a probable cause statement, deputies were called about 10:45 p.m. July 2 to a field on Spencer Creek Lane, about 2.4 miles east of U.S. 61 with information that Ray "was suicidal and armed with a handgun."

The Sheriff's report said that when a deputy arrived, Ray had a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun.

"The Sheriff's deputy gave Ray numerous commands to drop the handgun; however, Ray refused to comply with the commands," wrote Sheriff's Cpl. N.J. Shinkle.

Several deputies arrived on the scene that Shinkle said resulted in a 50-minute standoff. As Ray started to place the handgun in her waistband, Shinkle said deputies deployed a stun gun in an unsuccessful attempt to disarm her.

"Ray immediately fired the handgun in the direction of two Ralls County Sheriff's Department officers," Shinkle wrote. "The projectile fired by Ray struck the ground and a piece of shrapnel from the projectile struck Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie in the face. Another officer, Chief Deputy (Ronald) Haught, was struck by debris believed to have been caused by the projectile's impact with the ground."

Both officers were treated and released, the report said.

Ray was shot during the exchange and airlifted to a St. Louis hospital.

At the time of the incident, Ray was questioned by Center officials after they discovered the city was facing fines of more than $146,000 for failing to file annual financial reports with the Missouri Department of Revenue since 2015.

She was fired by the Board of Aldermen on July 3.

Since her dismissal, officials have discovered more than $246,000 in questionable credit card and insurance payments made from the city's bank accounts for the general fund and sewer fund.

The city requested an investigation from Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway's office, which has been auditing Center in conjunction with the FBI, law officials say.

A spokesman for the auditor's office said earlier this month that the audit will not likely be completed until March or April of 2020. The auditor's office will turn over its findings to law enforcement, as it does not have criminal prosecution authority.

Ray's husband, former Center police chief David Ray, filed for divorce Sept. 27 in Audrain County.

Things to Do