The ex-husband who allegedly shot an acting postmaster at a Carroll County post office Wednesday afternoon has died.
The U.S. postal inspector said Billy Bell walked into the post office in Hale, MO, about 2:40 p.m. and allegedly shot 42-year-old Michelle Bell. The couple had recently divorced.
The post office is located on Main and Second streets.
Michelle Bell was shot at least once. She was taken by medical helicopter to a hospital and last listed in stable condition.
The U.S. postal inspector said members of the Carrollton County Sheriff's Office found Billy Bell in another location with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was taken to the hospital where he died Thursday morning.
It was not the type of crime that happens every day in the small town of Hale, located about two hours northeast of Kansas City.
"It's tragedy. It's just like they've come in and invaded your own home," said Cindy Judy, the owner of Hale Grocery and Bait Shop located next door.
Judy said she saw Michelle Bell, or Shelly as she's known, eating lunch downtown with her children before the shooting.
"She is always just with a smile on her face, you know, ‘How are you this morning?'" Judy said.
Friends and co-workers gathered Wednesday night to pray for Michelle Bell.
"Everybody hears something happened out at the post office ... it was really big news," postal inspector David Nitz said.
Nitz is working with local law enforcement to figure out why a gunman went inside the post office and shot Michelle Bell.
"You can try to prevent a crime like this, but if someone wants to hurt somebody, it is going to get done," Sheriff Troy Hofstetter said.
In a town of just 400, everyone knows Michelle Bell, who has worked for different post offices in Carroll County for the past 15 years.
"This community is not unlike any others. They rally around the injured or the hurt. They will come out and help that person," Hofstetter said.
"I feel so bad for the family, the family is hurting so bad and I just pray that God is with them and carries them through this. We're just praying for them and hoping everything is OK," Judy said. "We're just, as a community, going to have to come together and figure this out. It's very, very sad."
Michelle Bell remains at the hospital as she is treated for her injuries.
The postal service issued a statement about the shooting that said:
"We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence against a member of our postal family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee and her family at this time. We have made arrangements to have counselors available to assist in coping with this traumatic event for the victim's family as well as postal employees. The Hale, Missouri Post Office has been placed in emergency suspension until further notice while U.S. Postal Inspection Service continues its investigation."
The Hale Post Office was closed Thursday. Community members are signing a card located outside of the post office for Michelle Bell.
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