A 22-year veteran of the Lawrence Police Department died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head today in what authorities have determined was a suicide.
Authorities said Cpl. Dan McAlister, 54, died at the Fraternal Order of Police lodge, 1 miles southwest of Lone Star, where he was to have served as range master today during officer firearm qualification.
Judy Osburn, operations coordinator for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, said a passerby called authorities shortly after 8 a.m. and reported seeing a body outside the lodge.
McAlister's body was found by another officer who a
Dr. Carol Moddrell, Douglas County coroner, said early this afternoon that she had ruled McAlister's death a suicide.
MCALISTER LEFT suicide notes, Osburn said, and he may have shot himself because of concerns about his long-term health. She said he recently had been hospitalized for stomach pain. He returned to work on Monday, she said.
Doctors had run tests on him, she said, but she did not know what they were testing for or what the test results were.
Flags at the Lawrence-Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center flew at half-staff today in McAlister's memory.
"Obviously, we're shocked," Osburn said. "He was the last person you'd think would take his own life."
Police Sgt. Mark Warren described McAlister as highly professional.
In the early 1980s, Warren said, McAlister was appointed evidence custodian, meaning he was in charge of storing and handling all police evidence.
HE SAID McAlister established a system that has worked flawlessly, cutting the amount of time officers spent retrieving evidence from hours to just a few minutes.
Warren said McAlister, who was wounded while serving in Vietnam, was a master marksman and gunsmith who enjoyed shooting at work and in his spare time.
McAlister was an excellent firearms instructor who could make a good marksman out of every officer, Warren said, even officers who "had never picked up a gun and were afraid of guns."
"He taught all the officers here how to shoot," he said.
Personally, Warren said, McAlister was "a dignified man; very modest."
Warren-McElwain Mortuary is handling arrangements.