Jordan Roberts, 11, was fatally shot by a man holding him hostage before police rushed in and killed the man Friday evening, Police Chief Keith Humphrey said at a news briefing this afternoon.
Brent Martin, 32, was killed in a house at 1 Karon Court in Twin Lakes about 7 p.m. Friday after he opened fire on two officers who forced their way into the house after hearing gunshots. The officers found the wounded child in a bedroom. They made life-saving efforts, but he was pronounced dead later at Children’s Hospital.
Police were on the scene because Maranda Alford, the mother of the child, had gone to the police station shortly after 6 p.m. to say Martin was in her house with her child and she feared for his safety. Officers attempted to establish communication with Martin while waiting outside for SWAT officers, but then heard gunshots.
Multiple officers forced their way in, Humphrey said. “They came under fire by Mr. Martin, shooting inside the residence.” Two officers, Lt. Dana Jackson, a 32-year veteran of the force, and officer Scott Dettmer, a 23-year veteran, returned fire, killing Martin.
The officers will be on paid leave during the usual investigation that follows use of force. The child’s death was the city’s 17th homicide.
Humphrey asked for prayers for the child’s mother and other family members. Many details remain unknown. Martin apparently had a relationship with the mother, but the chief said he was unclear on relationships. He said police hadn’t yet determined a motive. “We have no idea what caused this,” he said. The initial police incident report says that Alford identified Martin as the father of her child.
Humphrey said, “Our officers rushed toward danger. Their main focus was to save the life of this child.” It happened in a matter of seconds, he said, but “they never thought of their safety. I want to commend those officers for their actions.”
He also said in response to a question: “Our officers are hurting. They tried everything they could to save that young child.”
The chief’s praise of police was echoed by Mayor Frank Scott Jr., who also spoke briefly, offering sympathy for the family. “The men and women of the Little Rock Police Department, in the midst of COVID-19, are continuing their duty of protecting and serving our community,” he said.
A search of court records indicates a trial was pending next week for a man of the same name and age for domestic assault and battery of a family member in October 2019. Also, in 2018, Maranda Alford was accused of domestic battery by Brent Martin in a district court case. The case wasn’t prosecuted. Both were named as defendants in an eviction proceeding filed in late January for unpaid rent on a house in Southwest Little Rock.
A police spokesman said he couldn’t confirm if the pending case was the same, but he said Alford had an order of protection against Martin.