TUESDAY UPDATE: Authorities have made an arrest in the fatal shooting of an Arkansas officer. Click here for an updated story, or read the story that appeared in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette below.
A Newport Police Department lieutenant was fatally wounded Monday evening while assisting another officer on a traffic stop in a park in the Jackson County city and police from several jurisdictions scoured neighborhoods searching for the gunman, officials said.
Lt. Patrick Weatherford, 41, died at Unity Health in Newport after he was shot at about 6:15 p.m., said Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler. Weatherford was a 15-year veteran of the Newport Police Department.
Officers from the Newport Police Department, the Jackson County sheriff's office and the Arkansas State Police and deputies from neighboring counties helped search for the suspect, who police said was a black male. Police had not found him by 10 p.m. Monday.
The shooting occurred in the Remmel Park area west of the Newport High School. Officials closed roads leading into the park and used dogs to assist their search.
"We're in shock," Newport Mayor David Stewart said Monday evening. "We are trying to put the pieces together right now."
An official with the Newport Police Department said Weatherford did not normally conduct traffic stops but was in the area and was assisting the officer who made the stop.
Weatherford served as the spokesman for the Police Department. In April 2016, he graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy Program in Quantico, Va., and was named Jackson County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in October 2016.
Weatherford is the second law enforcement officer to die on duty this year.
Yell County sheriff's Lt. Kevin Mainhart, 46, was shot and killed May 11 when he made a traffic stop on Arkansas 27 west of Dardanelle. A suspect in the case was arrested after a standoff with officers in which two other people were slain.
Three Arkansas officers died in the line of duty in 2016.
Cpl. William Pressley Cooper, 66, with the Sebastian County sheriff's office was fatally shot on Aug. 10 when he and other officers responded to a domestic violence call southeast of Hackett.
McCrory Police Department patrolman Robert Aaron Barker, 26, was killed on Sept. 15 when his car struck a deer on Arkansas 17 south of Patterson as he responded to assist a Woodruff County deputy sheriff.
Corrections officer Lisa Anne Mauldin, 47, of the Miller County sheriff's office was killed Dec. 19 when she was attacked by an inmate in the Miller County jail's kitchen.
Weatherford is also the fourth officer to be killed in northeast Arkansas in the past seven years.
Trumann patrol officer Jonathan Schmidt, 30, was fatally shot during a traffic stop near a Trumann apartment complex on April 13, 2011. Jerry Lard of Trumann was convicted of capital murder in the shooting.
Two West Memphis police officers were killed on May 20, 2010, during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 in West Memphis. Officers Bill Evans, 38, and Sgt. Brandon Paudert, 39, who was West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert's son, were killed when Evans stopped a van driven by Jerry Kane Jr., 45. Kane's son, Joseph Kane, 16, opened fire on the officers with an AK-47.
Both Kanes were shot to death by officers during a shootout at a West Memphis Wal-Mart later that day.
Weatherford is the first officer shot in Newport in 24 years. Stewart, who was elected as the mayor of the Jackson County town of 7,783, was shot in the leg during a June 2, 1993, gunbattle with Alfonzo Brown when Stewart served as the Newport police chief.
A Section on 06/13/2017