Police in Jackson, Miss., were reeling Friday from the killing of a decorated homicide detective inside the police department’s headquarters as he was interviewing a suspect in a recent killing.
Authorities said Det. Eric Smith, a tall, fit investigator who had been with the department since 1995, was gunned down inside an interview room late Thursday afternoon as he was questioning the 23-year-old murder suspect, Jeremy Powell.
Officers heard several gunshots, and when they went to the room, found both Smith — a married father — and Powell dead of multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
Police in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, were clearly shaken by the killing of one of their own inside a high-security building where officers and residents alike expect to be safe. But police did not release any details on the sequence of what happened, and said the case has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which is standard procedure in such cases.
City officials asked the public for patience as investigators sort out what happened.
“This is a very tragic situation,” Jackson city spokesman Chris Mims said. “The entire city of Jackson and the Jackson Police Department family are all hurting. We are asking for the public’s patience while we find out why this tragic incident happened and how it happened.”
The suspect was being questioned on the third floor of the police headquarters building when the shooting happened, Police Chief Rebecca Coleman said.
Police said in a news release that Powell was in the process of being arrested in the killing Monday of Christopher Alexander. News outlets reported that the 20-year-old Alexander’s body was found Monday near a Jackson street and he had been stabbed in the neck.
Mims described the 40-year-old Smith, who was assigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division, as “a decorated detective and well-respected law-enforcement person throughout the state of Mississippi.”
“He was in the processing of questioning that suspect,” Mims said of the detective. “Other officers in the police department heard gunshots ring out and when they went to the interview room, discovered that both the suspect and the detective were deceased.”
The police headquarters was on lockdown Thursday night, Mims said.
Jackson City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba was in police headquarters with the mayor later and said Smith was shot by the suspect. He did not know how the suspect ended up dead.
“I understand there may have been more than one police officer in the room,” Lumumba said outside the police building.
The headquarters was blocked off and surrounded by crime tape. Law enforcement and Jackson city officials rushed to the scene.
At least 30 Jackson Police and Hines County Sheriff’s office vehicles were haphazardly parked across multiple, major downtown Jackson streets Thursday evening. Officers were visibly shaken, wiping their eyes, and Assistant Chief Lee Vance could be seen comforting Chief Rebecca Coleman at one point, putting his arm around her shoulder outside the building. A 2008 photo on the department’s website shows Smith, in a shirt and tie, accepting a certificate of commendation on behalf of a detective, with Coleman and Vance on each side of him.
Lumumba, who is a lawyer, said he first met Smith in the late 1990s. The then-officer had testified on some of Lumumba’s cases.
“I had great respect for his work and his integrity,” Lumumba said. He added that Smith’s stepson had played basketball on an Amateur Athletic Union team that Lumumba worked with.
“Eric helped take young men all over the country,” the councilman said. “He’s a real man in every sense of the word.”
Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr. also addressed the officer’s death.
“Detective Smith was an excellent officer in all respects,” the mayor said. “I want everyone to keep the Smith family in their prayers and in their thoughts.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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