Sebastian County Sheriff Deputy Bill Cooper died following an early Wednesday morning shootout near Hackett with suspect Billy Jones. Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck praised Cooper as a “perfect example” of a community officer.
According to the sheriff’s office, Cooper and Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spell responded to a 911 call from Jones’ father. Jones, who was scheduled for a Wednesday afternoon court appearance, was seen with a rifle pointed at law enforcement officers and was believed to be wearing a ballistic vest.
“At 7:39 am Deputy Bill Cooper was shot by Jones. More officers, deputies, trooper, and agents continued to respond to the scene,” noted the sheriff’s office report. “At 7:43 am Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells was hit by fire from Jones. It took other deputies braving the fire of Jones to get Chief Spells and Deputy Cooper extracted from the scene and on to EMS. Both were taken by ambulance to Sparks Hospital.”
With SWAT teams descending on the scene, Jones used his rifle to disable a robot. Officials closed portion of Arkansas 253 during the event.
The perimeter continued with shots being fired from Jones from time to time,” according to the sheriff’s office. “Negotiations were attempted during the incident. Jones chose not to speak to negotiators. At 11:46 am Jones chose to surrender to authorities. He was taken into custody by Arkansas State Police and was taken to Crawford County Detention.”
It was later discovered that Jones had explosive materials in his home, and bomb squads were sent to clear the scene.
Spells received a grazing head wound, and was treated for his injuries and released. Cooper was sent to emergency surgery for his injuries, but was pronounced dead at around 1:15 pm.
“He loved his job,” Hollenbeck said of Cooper during a press conference after it was learned Cooper had died. “He could have retired years ago. He loved his community so much that he stayed on with the sheriff’s department, serving and protecting.
“He had community policing in his heart, and he was a perfect example of how we all want our law enforcement officers to be when it comes to relationships with our community. He knew how important that was and he lived it every single day as a deputy sheriff for Sebastian County.”
Cooper worked as a deputy since 2001. He served five years before that with the Fort Smith Police Department, and was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued the following statement: “I am deeply saddened by the news that Sebastian County Sheriffs Deputy Bill Cooper has passed away after being shot in the line of duty this morning. Today’s shooting incident, which also resulted in injuries to Hackett Chief of Police Darrell Spells, tragically illustrates the dangers our law enforcement officers face each and every day to keep us safe.
“On behalf of all Arkansans, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to Deputy Cooper’s loved ones and our entire law enforcement community. We stand with you during this difficult time.”
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., issued this statement: “Deputy Cooper was a dedicated member of the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office who put his life on the line every day to defend our community. He was a brave hero who led a life of service and died serving and protecting the people of Arkansas. I join with all Arkansans as we mourn the passing of this selfless servant and keep his family and loved ones and all of the law enforcement community in our thoughts and prayers.”
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., issued this statement: “I join all Arkansans in mourning the death of Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper. A military veteran and 20-year member of Arkansas law enforcement, Deputy Cooper dedicated his life to protecting our state and our country. He served honorably and put his life on the line each and every day to make Arkansas a safer place. I extend my deepest condolences to Deputy Cooper’s loved ones and I will continue to lift them up in prayer. I hope that in their pain, they can take comfort knowing Arkansas is a better place because of Deputy Cooper and those who served with him.”