Deputy killed by Arkansas gunman during mobile home standoff

SEBASTIAN COUNTY —Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper died after he was shot during a standoff Wednesday morning. Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells was also hurt.

Law enforcement captured Billy Monroe Jones after the standoff.

The Victims

Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells and Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper were identified as two people shot. Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper died after the shooting this morning, according to a release sent by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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Deputy Cooper had served with the county since 2001, according to Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck. He was a Marine Corps veteran and was 65 years old.

“He could have retired years ago,” Hollenbeck said, but he stayed on because he “loved the men and women he worked with.”

Chief Spells had “superficial wounds,” said Sheriff Hollenbeck. He was treated at the hospital and released.

In addition, a K9 dog with the Greenwood Police Department was shot, said Sheriff Hollenbeck. Law enforcement is actively searching for that dog.

The Standoff

Billy Jones’s father called police Wednesday morning, concerned about his son, according to Phillip Pevehouse with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department. The home was near Highway 253, in the area of Mockingbird Lane. Jones pulled a gun on his father, according to Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck.

Jones was scheduled to go to court Wednesday, according to Sheriff Hollenbeck.

Sgt. Daniel Grubbs with the Fort Smith Police Department described what happened next to 40/29 News:

Several officers were pinned down by gunfire outside Jones’s home. Jones was shooting with a high-caliber rifle.

To avoid the shots, law enforcement brought in an MRAP vehicle and parked it in front of the house, to use as a shield.

Police sent in a robot from the Ft. Smith Bomb Squad to do surveillance on the home. Jones fired at the robot.

One officer on the scene told 40/29 the robot was “shot up.”

Pevehouse told 40/29 officials attempted to negotiate with Jones.

Sgt. Grubbs said there was a car nearby the home that police worried Jones could use as a getaway vehicle. Police fired shots at the car to disable it.

After the car was disabled, Jones came out with his hands up and a white surrender flag.

Jones was taken into custody at the Crawford County Detention Center, according to Sheriff Ron Brown.

Several law enforcement agencies from local counties and police departments across the River Valley, including Crawford, Logan and Scott counties. At least three helicopters were also sent to the scene. Sebastian County estimates 300 law enforcement personnel responded to the scene.

Jones was due in court in Fort Smith Wednesday afternoon on a Petition to Revoke a Suspended Sentence charge, according to Pevehouse.

Court documents show Jones was arrested in February on charges of Possession of a Firearm after having been previously convicted of a felony, and of Possession of Oxycodone. He pleaded not guilty to those charges, according to the documents.

A news helicopter crew heard and saw an explosion near the suspect’s home at about 1:45 p.m.. The explosion left a hole in the ground. 40/29 Reporter Pedro Rivera also heard the explosion from the ground.

The Response

The Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office posted “We ask that you please pray for the officers and their families that were involved in this morning’s shooting.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson released a statement, which read:

“I am deeply saddened by the news that Sebastian County Sheriffs Deputy Bill Cooper has passed away after being shot in the line of duty this morning. 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.”

“On behalf of all Arkansans, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to Deputy Cooper’s loved ones and our entire law enforcement community. We stand with you during this difficult time.”

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