PEA RIDGE — Residents of this northeast Benton County town planned to spend today celebrating freedom with a parade and fireworks, but two words changed that.
Pea Ridge police officer Kevin Apple was killed shortly after noon Saturday when a vehicle he had approached to speak with the driver ran him over and dragged him, according to authorities at the scene.
Shawna Rhae Cash, 22, of Pine Bluff and Elijah Anadoloza Sr., 18, of Bella Vista have been arrested in Apple’s death, according to reports. Both were being held in the Benton County jail Saturday night on charges of capital murder or attempted capital murder.
“Our department is in shock right now. We’re a home town. Everyone in our Police Department are family,” said Pea Ridge Police Lt. Michael Lisenbee, public information officer.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a Saturday night tweet that he was saddened to hear of Apple’s death and that he had ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the slain officer.
“My prayers are with Officer Apple’s family and the entire Pea Ridge community during this time,” the governor said in his message.
Apple and fellow officer Brian Stamps answered a call about 11:30 a.m. Saturday to be on the lookout for an older model blue Jeep fleeing from Rogers police officers.
Apple, a 23-year law enforcement veteran, and Stamps saw the Jeep at a White Oak convenience store about 12:09 p.m., according to Lisenbee. They parked on either end of the Jeep, which was parked at the store’s gas pumps.
When they attempted to speak with the occupants, the Jeep rammed one of the police vehicles, then drove over Apple and fled, Lisenbee said.
Stamps shot at the Jeep, according to reports.
The Jeep was pursued by officers from multiple agencies, including the Benton County sheriff’s office, said Sheriff Shawn Holloway.
“The suspects were apprehended in Bella Vista,” Lisenbee said.
Apple had been with the Pea Ridge Police Department for three years. He was a 23-year law enforcement veteran, having worked at other Northwest Arkansas law enforcement agencies, including the Lowell Police Department, according to Holloway, authorities said.
Rogers police officers and county deputies cordoned off the crime scene at Slack Street and North Curtis Avenue in Pea Ridge on Saturday afternoon.
Two police cars, one with front-end damage, sat parallel to the gas pumps at the convenience store.
Soon after the “officer down” call went out, police officers and emergency personnel from neighboring agencies, including Rogers, Little Flock and Bella Vista quickly converged on the scene. Pea Ridge officers were escorted from the scene to a private place.
Pea Ridge Police Chief Lynn Hahn soon arrived at the scene. He said the Benton County sheriff’s office would be handling the investigation.
Holloway said deputies will take care of all law enforcement calls in Pea Ridge for a time to allow Pea Ridge officers time off.
“He certainly has honored his community by sacrificing his own life in their service,” Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said during an afternoon news conference. “We want to honor him.”
Cash had previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 36 months of supervised probation in December 2018 in Washington County Circuit Court on a drug possession charge, according to online court records. She pleaded guilty again in January 2019 in Benton County Circuit Court to a drug possession charge and was sentenced to 72 months of probation. She pleaded guilty later that year in Benton County to burglary and theft of property counts and received 96 months of probation.
In December 2019, Cash was arrested again in Benton County on a drug possession charge. A warrant for her arrest was issued in September 2020 for failure to appear on that charge. She was charged in January 2020 in Washington County with theft of property and credit card fraud. In January and again in February of this year, she was charged in Washington County with theft by receiving.
The city’s Freedom Fest and summer parade, both scheduled for this weekend, were canceled.
“Our officers don’t need to be handling the festival right now,” said Edwin Brewer, owner of USA Fireworks and one of the organizers of the festival. “We’re canceling the festival in respect for them.”
A candlelight vigil for Apple was held Saturday night in the city park.