Po­lice charge teen in of­fi­cer killing

Lt. Pa­trick Weather­ford, 41, a 15-year vet­eran of the New­port Po­lice De­part­ment, was killed af­ter re­spond­ing to a call of a ve­hi­cle break-in at New­port High School.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - KEN­NETH HEARD

A 16-year-old boy has ad­mit­ted to fa­tally shoot­ing a New­port po­lice of­fi­cer and fir­ing at an­other po­lice of­fi­cer June 12 and now faces a cap­i­tal-mur­der charge, a prose­cu­tor said.

Der­rick Heard of New­port told po­lice that he fired the gun­shot that killed Lt. Pa­trick Weather­ford and fired at Sgt. Shane Rogers dur­ing a pur­suit near New­port High School, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit filed Wed­nes­day in Jack­son County Cir­cuit Court.

Po­lice had ar­rested Tyler Calamese, 18, of New­port on June 13, and Prose­cut­ing At­tor­ney Henry Boyce said he first con­sid­ered fil­ing cap­i­tal-mur­der charges against him af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors said Calamese con­fessed to killing the of­fi­cer. Calamese now faces charges of break­ing or en­ter­ing, theft and pro­vid­ing a weapon to a mi­nor.

“From the be­gin­ning, Heard was a sus­pect,” Boyce said. “We never ruled him out. We de­vel­oped leads af­ter ques­tion­ing wit­nesses.”

Weather­ford, 41, a 15-year vet­eran of the New­port Po­lice De­part­ment, was killed af­ter re­spond­ing to a call of a ve­hi­cle break-in at New­port High School. Weather­ford and Rogers at­tempted to stop Heard, the ar­rest af­fi­davit writ­ten by state po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor Sgt. Scott Pil­low said, and Heard fled on a bi­cy­cle.

Weather­ford ran af­ter Heard while Rogers chased him in a pa­trol car, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

Weather­ford ap­pre­hended Heard near Bowen Street and Rem­mel Road, sev­eral blocks west of the school, and Heard fired a hand­gun at the of­fi­cer, the af­fi­davit said. Heard also fired shots at Rogers, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

Rogers re­turned fire but did not hit Heard, Boyce said.

Weather­ford was shot in the ab­domen and the bul­let trav­eled to his heart, a med­i­cal ex­am­iner re­ported. Med­i­cal per­son­nel trans­ported Weather­ford to Unity Health-Har­ris Med­i­cal Cen­ter in New­port where he died, leav­ing be­hind his wife, Kris­ten Weather­ford, a 21-year-old daugh­ter and a 7-year-0ld son.

Po­lice said Calamese sur­ren­dered to po­lice about an hour and a half af­ter Weather­ford was shot about 6 p.m. June 12. Au­thor­i­ties con­tin­ued search­ing a neigh­bor­hood near Rem­mel Park and blocked traf­fic for sev­eral hours. A state po­lice he­li­copter flew over­head, search­ing a wooded area of the park near the school.

Boyce orig­i­nally held Calamese on ac­cu­sa­tions of cap­i­tal mur­der. Boyce had un­til Aug. 13 to file for­mal charges against him.

Janet Reynolds, Calamese’s grand­mother, has pro­claimed Calamese’s in­no­cence since he was ar­rested. She said her grand­son texted her shortly af­ter the shoot­ing, telling her that he was at an apart­ment at least 5 miles away from Rem­mel Park.

She said Calamese went to po­lice to clear his name af­ter he learned that he was con­sid­ered a sus­pect.

Boyce said he waited while in­ves­ti­ga­tors built their case against Heard be­fore fil­ing the charges. Heard also is charged with at­tempted cap­i­tal mur­der over the shots fired at Rogers, break­ing or en­ter­ing, theft and pos­ses­sion of a hand­gun by a mi­nor, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

Boyce said he also had to wait for foren­sic en­hance­ments of video taken from surveil­lance cam­eras at the school and from po­lice body cam­eras on Weather­ford and Rogers be­fore he could file charges.

He would not com­ment on what the videos show but said “the ev­i­dence is not in­con­sis­tent with the charges we filed” on Wed­nes­day.

Chris Nebben, an at­tor­ney with the Arkansas Pub­lic De­fender Com­mis­sion in Lit­tle Rock who was ap­pointed to rep­re­sent Calamese, said last week that he could not com­ment on the case.

“I am ob­li­gated to my client,” he told the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette on July 20. “I can­not com­ment fur­ther.”

Heard and Calamese are to be ar­raigned in Jack­son County Cir­cuit Court on Aug. 3.

“I am ab­so­lutely con­fi­dent we have the right per­son charged with the mur­der of Pa­trick Weather­ford,” Boyce said of Heard.

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