NEWPORT, Ark. (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in the killing of a decorated northeast Arkansas police officer who was fatally shot while assisting another officer with a traffic stop, police said.
Arkansas State Police said Newport Police Lt. Patrick Weatherford, 41, died at a hospital Monday night after the shooting in Newport, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.
Newport police told Jonesboro television station KAIT that a person was in custody, and that more information will be released Tuesday morning. Police said Weatherford had been assisting another officer with a traffic stop when he was shot.
KAIT reported that a dive team is searching for the gun used in the shooting, but did not say where.
“We’re in shock,” Newport Mayor David Stewart told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette late Monday. “We are trying to put the pieces together right now.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Weatherford was recognized last year as the Jackson County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. He was a 15-year veteran of the Newport Police Department.
“Lt. Weatherford was known for routinely preventing incidents and altercations from escalating into crisis, and I have no doubt that Lt. Weatherford began his watch today with the same mission to protect and serve the community he loved so much,” Rutledge said in a statement Monday night.
Weatherford is the second Arkansas police officer to be killed in the line of duty this year. Last month, Yell County Lt. Kevin Mainhart was fatally shot while making a traffic stop in rural western Arkansas, and a suspect was arrested after an hours-long standoff.