40/29 TV reports that two law officers were shot about 7 a.m. today near Hackett in Sebastian County and at mid-afternoon came word that one of them had died. Before his death, a suspect was taken into custody in the shooting.
The Hackett police chief, Darrell Spells, and a Sebastian deputy sheriff, Bill Cooper, were shot. Spells’ wounds were not life-threatening.
Reports emerged several hours after the shooting that Cooper had been removed from life supports. Then, shortly before a 3 p.m. news conference in Sebastian County, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement that Cooper had died.
“I am deeply saddened by the news that Sebastian County Sheriffs Deputy Bill Cooper has passed away after being shot in the line of duty this morning. Today’s shooting incident, which also resulted in injuries to Hackett Chief of Police Darrell Spells, tragically illustrates the dangers our law enforcement officers face each and every day to keep us safe.
“On behalf of all Arkansans, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to Deputy Cooper’s loved ones and our entire law enforcement community. We stand with you during this difficult time.”
An afternoon update of this story by KARK indicates a third officer may have suffered minor wounds in the shooting, which the report described as an “ambush” of officers responding to a call from the suspect’s father.
After five hours of an increasing police presence and search, a suspect in the shooting was taken into custody. Fox 16 reports that the suspect waved a white towel and surrendered peacefully. However, he reportedly fired on a police robot before giving up.
Originally, reports said officers were considering a five-mile radius in seeking the suspect, but later said he’d barricaded himself in a home and officers were negotiating with him to surrender. After the arrest, authorities said they found two pounds of the explosive Tannerite in the home and a bomb squad was called to handle the material, though law officers told 40/29 that Jones had a permit for the material.
Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells “will be OK,” 40/29 reported. His injuries were said to be superficial and he posted a comment on Facebook thanking everyone for support. From the beginning, little was provided about the condition of Cooper, other than that he was in surgery, but indications were that his wounds were severe.
A Greenwood man, Billy Monroe Jones, 34, is the suspect and jailed in Crawford County. The shooting was first said to have occurred when officers went to serve a warrant. But 40/29 later amended that to quote a sheriff’s spokesman as saying officers had gone to Jones’ home in response to a call from Jones’ father to check on his son. Jones reportedly has “negative feelings towards law enforcement” and neighbors said he and his family owned a large number of weapons.
A court record search shows that Billy Monroe Jones was charged in February in Greenwood District Court for being a felon in possession of a firearm and felony drug possession (oxycodone). He has a past record for drug and other charges.
KFSM reports a Fort Smith police dog that had been part of the response to the confrontation is missing and may have been shot.
This post has been edited several times to reflect changes in the developing story.