Police shoot, kill suspect after Saturday robbery report at West Memphis motel
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 email@example.com or on Twitter @JenPignolet.
Arkansas state police investigate the scene of a robbery at the America’s Best Value Inn in West Memphis, Arkansas.