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Thursday, May 20, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: (National) 2 West Memphis police officers killed after traffic stop on I-40; 2 deputies injured in later shootout

From CommercialAppeal

By Cindy Wolff

Originally published 12:24 p.m., May 20, 2010
Updated 01:35 p.m., May 20, 2010

West Memphis Police Officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans were shot and killed after a shootout on Interstate 40 in West Memphis today.

Paudert, 39, is the son of West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert.

The officers pulled over a 1994 van with an Ohio license plate when the shootout started, according to Bob Paudert, who confirmed his son was killed. Evans was taken to the hospital where he died.

Brandon Paudert and Evans were at I-40 and Airport Road when the shooting occurred.

The suspects were seen in the van headed south on Airport Road. At 1:20 p.m., about two dozen police officers had swarmed a white van at the Walmart in West Memphis.

Based on a WMC-TV Channel 5 report from its helicopter over the scene, two suspects were taken from the van after another shootout in which two Crittenden County Sheriff's deputies were shot. At 1:35, one of the wounded deputies was being airlifted to receive medical attention.

There is a roadblock set up on I-40 holding up traffic near Stateline Road. Officers are checking inside vehicles and trunks, looking for suspects.

The interstate is blocked at Ingram and I-40. No cars are being allowed to drive eastbound. At least one officer armed with a shotgun is standing guard at the roadblock.

Shelby County Sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Shular said his department’s dispatchers have broadcast the following description of the vehicle and the suspects:

Police are seeking a white Plymouth Voyager van, with an orange top and Ohio license plates. There were two men inside, perhaps Hispanic. They may be armed with assault rifles.

Shular said Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the interstate interdiction unit with the Memphis police department have fanned out along the highway beginning in Downtown to watch for the vehicle. They have placed themselves at highway entrances and exits and remained there as of 1 p.m., Shular said.

Col. A.C. Knight, commander of the Memphis Police Department’s organized crime unit, said teams are looking for the suspects in Memphis.

“We’ve got people who are looking in our known drug spots,” he said. “We’re checking any little dope areas and our hot spots. We’ve got our guys on alert from the broadcasts we’ve heard.” They are also checking motels and parking garages, any place where suspects could have ditched the vehicle.

MPD has sent reinforcement to help the West Memphis Police Department.

Memphis police director Larry Godwin said, “We’ve got two helicopters up now. We have special ops teams out. We’ve got a lot of manpower … downtown. I’ve been out riding. We’re all out riding.”

Brandon Paudert was assigned to the drug interdiction unit.

Staff reporters Kristina Goetz and Daniel Connolly contributed to this story.

Based on a WMC-TV Channel 5 report from its helicopter, two suspects were taken from the van after another shootout in which two more West Memphis police officers were shot.