Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr. ordered that flags at the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center and Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Center, along with a special “thin blue line” flag at the Sheriff's Office, be flown at half-staff in memory of Stone County Deputy Sheriff Mike Stephen, 56, who was killed in the line of duty Thursday while responding to a domestic call in Stone County, Arkansas.
Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Stephen was killed as he was responding to a call in Leslie when a suspect opened fire. Leslie is about 77 miles 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.
Friday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that 39-year-old Samuel Fullerton lived at the house where the disturbance occurred and was the other fatality at the scene.
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.
Back in Jefferson County, Woods called Stephens “a dedicated public servant who performed his duties in a manner that brought honor to the entire law enforcement profession.”
Woods reached out to Stone County Sheriff Lance Bonds by telephone following the death of Deputy Stephen to extend his condolences, according to a JCSO news release.
"As you can imagine, everyone is still trying to process this horrific incident. Let us remember the service and life of Deputy Stephen as we offer our deepest condolences to the Stephen Family, Sheriff Bond, and the entire Stone County Sheriff's Office Family," Woods said.
“The flags should be flown at half-staff until Deputy Stephen is laid to rest.”
Deputy Stephen is the first Arkansas law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty this year.