A sheriff’s deputy in western Arkansas was fatally shot Thursday morning during a traffic stop, at least two other people were found dead outside a rural home nearby, and police were trying to persuade a suspect to surrender, Arkansas State Police said.
The suspect was taking shelter in a home about 5 miles southwest of the small city of Dardanelle, state police spokesman Bill Sadler said.
It appears, at least preliminarily, that the deaths of the Yell County sheriff’s deputy and the two other victims are connected, Sadler said.
The deputy, identified by the state attorney general as Lt. Kevin Mainhart, was on his way to check a disturbance call on rural Gum Springs Road when he pulled someone over at a nearby intersection shortly after 7:15 a.m. CT, Sadler said.
Sadler said “it is believed at this moment” there was information about a suspect vehicle involved in the disturbance, leading the officer to make the traffic stop.
Someone shot and killed the deputy during that traffic stop at State Highway 27 and Slo Fork Road, Sadler said.
When other officers arrived at the Gum Springs Road home, they saw two bodies outside, Sadler said. It wasn’t immediately clear how those two died.
Investigators determined that a suspect was in a home near those bodies, and negotiators were trying to contact the suspect Thursday afternoon.
“Right now, priority 1 is to get this individual to surrender to police,” Sadler said.
Sadler said investigators hadn’t yet examined the bodies along Gum Springs Road, because of the suspect’s proximity.
State police urged people to stay away from the areas of Dardanelle, a city of about 4,700 people, and the nearby unincorporated community of Chickalah.
“(Police) are actively involved in a manhunt in that area,” officials said in a Facebook post.