UPDATE: At 3:30 p.m., the State Police said they have a suspect in custody in three slayings in Yell County, including that of Yell County sheriff’s deputy Kevin Mainhart.
Following is how we reported the story as it occurred:
The State Police have been called to assist Yell County authorities in what appears to be three homicides, including the slaying of a deputy sheriff, in a rural community west of Dardanelle known as Chickalah.
Details are sketchy, though an initial report that led local authorities to the area apparently was related to a domestic disturbance.
KARK/Fox 16, quoting the West Memphis Fire Department, has identified the slain deputy as Kevin Mainhart, a Russellville native who worked 20 years in West Memphis before moving back to the Arkansas River Valley. KARK has a report from a neighbor about the outbreak of an altercation.
Police believe have identified a suspect, but he is not in custody. Other reports say he was initially suspected of holding two people hostage when a deputy responded.
UPDATE: The River Valley Leader reports that one of the dead is a deputy who died in a firefight with a suspect in the two other shootings and that a SWAT unit was en route. It reported the manhunt was in the Gum Springs Road area between Dardanelle and Chickalah.
The effort to arrest the suspect has prompted authorities to ask people in the area to leave their homes. Some confusion continues on whether the suspect might have hostages. A State Police news conference indicates the suspect is in a house surrounded by officers. Conflicting reports exist about whether two other people are in the house with him. Officers are trying to negotiate his surrender.
The two people found dead at a house on Gum Springs have not been identified. It appears the deputy was shot when responding to a call about a disturbance at the house. He apparently stopped a vehicle thought involved in the disturbance and was fatally shot. Two people were found dead subsequently at the house. They have been identified as female, but the names are being withheld.
UPDATE: The State Police summary:
Lieutenant Kevin C. Mainhart, 46, of the Yell County Sheriff’s Department was killed in the line of duty today during a traffic stop west of Dardanelle, Arkansas along State Highway 27 near the junction of Slo-Fork Road.
Lieutenant Mainhart had served the citizens of Yell County as a law enforcement officer for five years and previously retired from the West Memphis Police Department following a career of more than twenty years.
At approximately 7:18 AM today (Thursday, May 11, 2017), Lieutenant Mainhart initiated a traffic stop after identifying a vehicle believed to be associated with a disturbance call at 10024 Gum Springs Road.
During the course of the traffic stop the deputy was fatally wounded. A short-time later a motorist passing the site notified local law enforcement Lieutenant Mainhart had been shot.
As other local officers arrived at the Gum Springs address, the deceased bodies of two other individuals were found outside the residence. The identity of the victims is not known at this hour.
Shortly before 10 AM today Yell County Deputies and Arkansas State Police identified a location where a suspect is believed to be located. State Police negotiators are attempting to make contact with the individual.
UPDATE: In announcing the arrest, police didn’t reveal details of how the standoff was brought to an end with the suspect’s surrender after five hours. At least one other person was in the house and described as a hostage. She was allowed to leave the house shortly before the suspected surrendered. The suspect has been identified as James Arthur Bowden, 42. He’s been charged with three counts of capital murder. Confusion arose about his identity because of multiple people with similar names in the region.
KTHV reports that Bowden had difficulties reflected in court records, with problems related to alcohol and drugs.
CORRECTION: KTHV says the court record they reported — and which we had quoted here but have now deleted — pertained to a different person with a similar name, not the man arrested.
This morning, the State Police issued a correction on the middle name of the suspect and the age to those now listed above. They’d originally given the middle name as Michael, which was originally used here, and a younger age, also originally reported here. They also corrected the arrest location to 12084 Gum Springs.