(STONE COUNTY) An Arkansas sheriff’s deputy was killed Thursday morning in a shooting that left one other person wounded and the suspected killer dead, police said.
Mike Stephens, 56, was identified as the Stone County Sheriff’s deputy that was killed in the incident, Arkansas State Police Spokesman Bill Sadler said at a press conference.
The suspected shooter was also killed in the incident, but it was not immediately clear whether he took his own life or if he was shot by other deputies. He has not been identified.
Authorities were called to a home in the rural area of Leslie at 8:02 a.m. over a domestic welfare check, Sadler said. Stephens arrived at 8:39 a.m. and encountered a woman who he began talking to before gunfire quickly erupted.
Stephens was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman, who was not identified, was wounded and taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to Sadler.
Sadler noted that the amount of time it took Stephens to reach the scene was because of how far away from the home he was when he got the call to respond. He declined to say whether officials had ever been called to the home before.
Stephens was a 20-year veteran of law enforcement and a U.S. Army veteran, Stone County Chief Deputy Sheriff Zach Alexander said at the press conference.
“Every action that he’s ever done, he always would be the first guy in somewhere and last one out,” Alexander said.
United States Senator Tom Cotton issued a statement that says “Today, the State of Arkansas mourns the loss of a brave law-enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
Mike Stephen protected the people of Stone County, standing as part of the thin blue line separating our communities from crime and chaos. I encourage all Arkansans to pray for and comfort his family, friends, and neighbors during this moment of loss.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson said that “It was heartbreaking to hear that Stone County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Stephen was killed in the line of duty today.
Deputy Stephen’s death is a somber reminder that our law-enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect ours. I am grateful for the men and women who willingly put their safety on the line every time they put on the uniform. My heart goes out to his wife and son, and to his fellow officers and friends in their grief at the tragic loss of Mike Stephen.”
Governor Hutchinson ordered the state flag of Arkansas to fly at half-staff in honor of Deputy Stephen. The flag is to be flown at half-staff immediately through the day of interment.