LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Authorities say two people, including a sheriff’s deputy, were killed Thursday in a shooting in rural northern Arkansas.
Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Stone County Sheriff’s deputy Sergeant Mike Stephen, 56, was killed as he was responding to a call in Leslie when a suspect opened fire. Leslie is about 77 miles (124 kilometers) north of Little Rock.
Sadler said Stephen arrived around 8:40 a.m. at a house in response to a domestic welfare check call, shortly before other deputies arrived. As Stephen approached the house, he began talking with a woman outside, while a man was inside. Then, Sadler said, “gunfire erupted.” He did not say who shot first, what guns were involved or how many shots were fired.
Both Stephen and a male suspect were killed. The woman was taken to a local hospital with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
Sadler said agents with the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigations division are investigating the shooting.
Stone County Chief Deputy Zachary Alexander said Stephen was a 20-year veteran of law enforcement, as well as a U.S. army veteran and the chief of the Pineville Fire Department.
Alexander said Stephen was an “extraordinary leader” who always wanted to be first on the scene.
“We’re all proud to know him and our prayers go out with his family,” Alexander said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson called Stephen’s death “heartbreaking” and a “somber reminder that our law-enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect ours.”
Hutchinson has ordered the Arkansas flag to be flown at half-staff through Stephen’s internment.