FORT SMITH — An eastern Oklahoma man was shot and killed by an off-duty Sebastian County sheriff's deputy in Fort Smith after earlier exchanging gunfire with Fort Smith police, according to Fort Smith police.
Justin Wayne Higgins, 23, was dead at the scene of the Saturday afternoon shooting on the city's south side, Sgt. Daniel Grubbs told the Times Record on Sunday, after Higgins allegedly pointed his weapon at the deputy, who said he opened fire after hearing Higgins' weapon click.
The names of the deputy and of Fort Smith police officers who had earlier exchanged gunfire with Higgins were not released.
Investigators think Higgins fled on foot from a Fort Smith residence after police were called to a domestic disturbance shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, according to Grubbs.
Police said Higgins is believed to have later forced a man at gunpoint to drive him back to the area of the initial call, where Higgins opened fire on three police officers, two of whom returned the gunfire, Grubbs said.
The off-duty deputy was in the area and preparing to go eat with a friend and young children when he heard the gunshots and went to check on the situation while carrying his agency-issued firearm.
The deputy returned to find Higgins in a pickup and pointing a gun at the deputy's friend with the children inside the truck while yelling at the friend to drive away from the scene, according to Sheriff's Lt. Philip Pevehouse.
The deputy drew his firearm and Higgins pointed his weapon back before the deputy said he heard a click coming from Higgins' handgun. Pevehouse said the deputy fired two shots, at least one of which struck Higgins, killing him.
The children were shaken, but not injured, and no other injuries were reported, according to Grubbs.
Both Fort Smith police and Sebastian County sheriff's office will investigate the shooting and Arkansas State Police have been asked to assist, authorities said.