GRANDIN -- Carter County Sheriff Greg Melton, 47, of Grandin was found dead in his garage from a gunshot wound Thursday night.
The investigation is being conducted by Missouri Highway Patrol Troop G based in Willow Springs.
"We got the call at 8:16 p.m.," said Sgt. Marty Elmore, public information officer for Troop G. "The sheriff's wife found him."
Carter County Coroner Dennis McSpadden, who is now serving as sheriff as required by state law, pronounced Melton dead at the scene.
"There will be no formal news release until we receive the results from the autopsy," Elmore said.
The autopsy was scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, but information on where it will be conducted was not available.
"This is an active death investigation. There are so many folks to interview before we can say anything more," Elmore said.
Meanwhile, co-workers, friends and neighbors are mourning the death of Melton, who served as sheriff for nearly eight years and currently was campaigning for re-election.
"Everybody is in a state of shock. You never expect anything like this," said Glenda Brittain, who moved next to the Meltons four years ago. "We were watching TV when their son was pounding on my door. He was screaming, 'Someone shot my dad. My dad is dead,'" Brittain said.
After calling the police chief, she and her adult son, Brian, went to the garage.
"Greg was laying on the floor of the garage," Glenda said.
Numerous city, county and state officers responded to the scene at the corner of Third of Maple streets. Investigators worked throughout the night and are busy interviewing people today. An Air Evac helicopter was dispatched, but then sent back.
No one apparently heard a gunshot, but another neighbor reportedly heard the sound of spinning gravel around 7:30 p.m.
Phillip Phelps, a Grandin resident, said Melton was found face down in the back corner of the garage.
"He had been shot in the face. His 45-caliber gun was found under him," Phelps said.
Mark Hall, another Grandin resident, described Melton as "the best sheriff we ever had."
Gary Sullivan, a weekend dispatcher in the Carter County Sheriff's Department, had worked with Melton four years.
"He was a great guy to work with " Sullivan said.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Danny Kearbey could not be reached for comment.
Carter County Presiding Commissioner Gene Oakley was in St. Louis when he received the news.
"I have known that boy since he was 9. It is just horrible," Oakley said. "The commission will meet Monday and discuss the appointment of an interim sheriff."
Melton worked as a dispatcher in the Carter County Sheriff's Department from January 1997 through November 1999. Then he was a deputy sheriff in Ripley County until he became Carter County sheriff on Jan. 1, 2001.
A Democrat, Melton was re-elected in 2004 and was seeking his third term in the Nov. 4 general election. He defeated two other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in the primary election. Tommy Adams won the Republican nomination.
"It sure was a shock. This leaves a big hole in our lives," said Carter County Clerk Becky Gibbs, who added the election will go on as planned. The ballots had already been printed and absentee ballots have been cast.
Grandin Police Chief Carl Personette was not available for comment Friday.
"Everyone is in a state of shock. He did what he could for people. If he could help you, he would," Grandin City Clerk Joy Townsend said.
She described Melton as someone who "cared about his county, he took his job seriously and he was a very loved family man."
Melton is survived by his wife, Laura, who is a dispatcher at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, their son, Austin, 12, and two stepdaugters, Shanna and Macy, in their late teens.