FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A man who “was looking for an officer to kill” drove into a police parking lot in northwestern Arkansas, approached an officer who was sitting in a patrol car and shot him point-blank in the head, police said Sunday.
Officer Stephen Carr, 27, was “ambushed and executed” late Saturday outside Fayetteville Police Department headquarters, Chief Mike Reynolds said.
Reynolds said two officers ran outside after hearing gunshots behind the police department at about 9:42 p.m. Saturday and confronted an armed suspect, who they shot and killed. Reynolds identified the suspect as London Phillips, 35, of Fayetteville.
Police said they don’t know why he did it but that they believe Phillips set out to kill a police officer.
“All I know is that this was a cowardly act. I have no information that leads me to believe that he targeted this officer specifically. He was looking for an officer to kill,” Reynolds said during a news conference Sunday.
Reynolds said Phillips used a 9 mm Taurus pistol and had two boxes of ammunition with him.
Fayetteville police had a “brief history” with Phillips, Reynolds said. Police received a call in December 2018 about Phillips impersonating a police officer, he said. In April, Phillips pawned a gun at a local pawn shop. Reynolds said the owner of the shop would not return the gun because Phillips had a medical marijuana card, which disqualifies someone from possessing a gun in Arkansas.
Reynolds became choked up and appeared to fight back tears during the news conference. He said Carr was from Texas and had joined the Fayetteville police department about 2 1/2 years ago. He was a patrol officer who was assigned to the entertainment district.
“He’s a hero,” Reynolds said.
“He was an all-American boy,” he said. “He came from a law enforcement family. He knew what the job was about and he just wanted to serve his community.”
Reynolds said there has been an outpouring of shock, disbelief and support from people in Fayetteville and the surrounding area.
“”I think it just proves that we’re not immune and that officers are being targeted every day throughout our country. It’s just unfortunate,” he said.
Fayetteville police have asked the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI to investigate. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office declined to release details of the investigation Sunday.
Police did not immediately release the names of the two officers who shot Phillips. Under city and police department policy, both officers have been placed on administrative leave until Reynolds can review the results of the investigation.
The fatal Arkansas shooting followed the shooting death of a Houston police officer Saturday night.