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story.lead_photo.caption A Hackett police vehicle Wednesday in Sebastian County. Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells and sheriff's deputy Bill Cooper were shot Wednesday morning. - Photo by Michael Woods

One of two law enforcement officers shot while responding to a call in western Arkansas has died, Gov. Asa Hutchinson confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

Sebastian County sheriff's deputy Bill Cooper and Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells were hit shortly before 7:20 a.m. outside a home in the 4700 block of Arkansas 253, which is between Greenwood and Midland, according to authorities.

In a statement shortly before 3 p.m., Hutchinson said Cooper died of injuries sustained in the shooting, offering condolences to his family and the law enforcement community.

“I am deeply saddened by the news that Sebastian County sheriff's deputy Bill Cooper has passed away after being shot in the line of duty this morning," Hutchinson said in a statement. "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."

Spells was released from a local hospital later in the morning and is expected to be fine, a Hackett Police Department spokesman said.

Pevehouse told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the two were hit while responding to an unspecified call for service. He said the shooter, identified as 34-year-old Billy Jones, then barricaded himself in the residence for several hours.

Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said Jones wanted to cause a "ruckus" ahead of a court appearance.

The sheriff said Jones was due in a Fort Smith courtroom Wednesday for a hearing on whether a previous suspended sentence should be revoked. Court records show he has had a drug conviction along with a handful of minor charges.

Authorities said the injured officers went to the home, about 6 miles from the Oklahoma border, after Jones pointed a weapon at his father, who called 911.

Law enforcement surrounded the home and the SWAT team was on scene as authorities attempted to communicate with Jones throughout the morning. He was taken into custody around noon.

Cooper had been an employee of the Sebastian County sheriff's office since 2001. He also worked for five years with the Fort Smith Police Department and served with the U.S. Marine Corps.

"We ask that you continue to pray for his family, friends and our department during this difficult time. Corporal Cooper will be deeply missed by all that knew him," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

James Markward, who lives nearby, said he heard commotion early Wednesday morning in the area, which is about 115 miles west of Little Rock.

"It woke me up this morning, the gunshots. Of course I didn't know what was going on," the 72-year-old told The Associated Press in telephone interview. "My neighbor called me and asked if I was shooting, and I said 'No, not me.'"

Markward said the shooting suspect once helped him split wood, but said he hadn't seen the man in a few years.

"As far as I know, he was all right," he said.

Additional details of the shooting haven't been released.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said his agency is assisting, but he referred all questions to Sebastian County authorities.

Check back for updates on this developing story and read Thursday's Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Sebastian County sheriff's deputy Bill Cooper
Photo by Michael Woods
Authorities near the scene where a sheriff's deputy and a police officer were shot Wednesday morning in Sebastian County.
Photo by Michael Woods
Authorities at Arkansas 253 and Mockingbird Hill Road in Sebastian County, near where a sheriff’s deputy and a police officer were shot Wednesday morning.

The Associated Press, Arkansas Online reporter Brandon Riddle and Democrat-Gazette reporter Dave Hughes contributed to this story.


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Archived Comments

  • Queen1976
    August 10, 2016 at 9:17 a.m.

    My thoughts & prayers go out to the officers.

  • HarleyOwner
    August 10, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

    This craziness has finally came to Arkansas. Really sad.

  • Kharma
    August 10, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

    Hopefully the officers will have speedy and full recoveries.

    It sounds like a full-on asault of the house with tear gas &C. is warranted. If the suspect doesn't survive then bummer.

  • Nodmcm
    August 10, 2016 at 12:54 p.m.

    Our best wishes for a speedy recovery. It appears this was a domestic violence call, and probably an inebriated suspect, with a firearm. Domestic violence calls are so very, very dangerous, because emotions run so high, and in a fit of anger or anguish, folks can become very dangerous. Of course, his romantic troubles with women are almost assuredly over, because other than female prison guards, the shooter won't have much contact with women where he will be spending most of the rest of his life.

  • mrcharles
    August 10, 2016 at 4:16 p.m.

    Sadly the deputy has died. the crazy killer has been captured.

    Harley sadly it has been in arkansas for years.

  • pauljohnson
    August 10, 2016 at 7:57 p.m.

    Today we should pray for all the peace officers in the United States. All this senseless killings have got to stop. These men and women put their lives on the line everyday trying to protect the citizens of their county, state and our nation. In addition, they are some of the lowest paid workers. We need to get this straightened out now and find a way to protect those who defend our citizens. My prayers will be for the officers families to help them heal over their loss. I have read that domestic violence is the most dangerous call a policemen can respond to.