Po­lice shoot, kill sus­pect af­ter Satur­day rob­bery re­port at West Mem­phis mo­tel

The Commercial Appeal - - Local - JEN­NIFER PIGNOLET

A West Mem­phis, Ar­kan­sas, po­lice of­fi­cer shot and killed a rob­bery sus­pect Satur­day morn­ing, the de­part­ment said in a re­lease.

Of­fi­cers re­sponded to a rob­bery call just af­ter 7 a.m. at the Amer­ica’s Best Value Inn at 2411 Ser­vice Road, ac­cord­ing to po­lice. Of­fi­cers lo­cated a sus­pect, who po­lice said was armed with a hand­gun, in a nearby apart­ment com­plex.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, the man re­fused an of­fi­cer’s com­mands to drop the weapon, and an of­fi­cer fired his weapon. The man, whose name hasn’t been re­leased, later died from his in­juries.

West Mem­phis Po­lice Cap­tain Joe Baker said in an email the in­volved of­fi­cer’s name would not be re­leased un­til the de­part­ment com­pletes an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The of­fi­cer is on paid leave pend­ing com­ple­tion of that in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Jack Balakr­ish­nan, owner of nearby Coun­try Hearth Inn, said he was work­ing on his ho­tel prop­erty early in the morn­ing when he heard three gun­shots. He said he saw six or seven po­lice cars just down the road.

“I could see they were run­ning around look­ing for some­one,” he said. At the back of the prop­erty, he said he saw a man jump a fence to­ward the Steeplechase Apart­ments.

Deb­o­rah Gaines, who lives in the apart­ments at the cor­ner of Wheeler Av­enue and Talon­wood Drive, said she walked out of her apart­ment to go to work about 7:30 a.m. and saw a body in the street on Talon­wood. Gaines said she didn’t hear any­thing be­cause the air con­di­tion­ing was on in her apart­ment. She was al­lowed to leave to go to work, but an­other per­son in the apart-

ment was or­dered back in­side, she said.

Calvin Shields, who lives down the street on Wheeler, said he woke up to gun­shots and walked down the street to see a man shot in the head, ly­ing face up on the ground. Shields said he rec­og­nized the man as some­one he’d seen walk­ing from the ho­tels in the area to a ser­vice sta­tion west of the area. Peo­ple fre­quently walk past his apart­ment to get there, he said, and he sees them from his porch.

“I’ve seen him walk through here maybe three, three or four times,” Shields said, adding that the last time, the man was with a woman.

Gaines and Shields both said the man who’d been shot was black.

The body was about 10 feet from a group­ing of dump­sters at the cor­ner of the two roads, Shields said. Dried blood was still vis­i­ble on the pave­ment Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The apart­ment com­plex is the same place where 12-year-old DeAunta Far­row was killed by a po­lice of­fi­cer in 2007. A road that splits the com­plex up the mid­dle is named af­ter the boy. Shields said he’s a cousin of Far­row, but wasn’t liv­ing in West Mem­phis at the time of the shoot­ing.

Shields said po­lice fre­quently drive through the neigh­bor­hood, but he wasn’t sur­prised to hear of an in­ci­dent.

“It doesn’t sur­prise me the way things are to­day,” he said.

Ar­kan­sas State Po­lice are con­duct­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing. Pa­trol of­fi­cers on Satur­day af­ter­noon were sta­tioned out­side the mo­tel where the rob­bery was re­ported.

Shawn Pa­tel, owner of the Re­lax Inn next door, said he didn’t hear the ini­tial ac­tiv­ity but came to his mo­tel around 8 a.m. to find po­lice tape up to his prop­erty.

“They made me run my cam­eras back,” Pa­tel said of his se­cu­rity sys­tem. “They didn’t find any­thing.”

No one an­swered later in the day at the of­fice door of Amer­ica’s Best Value Inn.

Reach Jen­nifer Pignolet at jen­nifer.pignolet@com­mer­cialap­peal.com or on Twit­ter @JenPig­no­let.

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JIM WE­BER/THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

Ar­kan­sas state po­lice in­ves­ti­gate the scene of a rob­bery at the Amer­ica’s Best Value Inn in West Mem­phis, Ar­kan­sas.

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