Officials: Deputy US marshal killed in fugitive shootout

AP News
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Posted: Mar 10, 2015 8:48 PM
Officials: Deputy US marshal killed in fugitive shootout

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A deputy U.S. marshal was killed Tuesday in a shootout on the outskirts of Baton Rouge while trying to arrest a fugitive wanted in the slayings of a brother and sister, officials said.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells was killed about 11 a.m., said Drew Wade, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service. Wells was 27 and assigned to a Marshals office in Mississippi.

The last time a deputy marshal was killed in the line of duty in the U.S. was in March 2011.

Wade said the fugitive, Jamie D. Croom, 31, was shot and taken to a hospital. His condition was not immediately available.

U.S. Attorney Walt Green, of Louisiana's Middle District, said in a statement late Tuesday that Croom was charged in a federal criminal complaint with Wells' murder. Further details were not provided.

Croom was wanted in the shooting deaths of a brother and sister in New Roads, Louisiana, according to Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Beauregard Torres III.

"Deputy marshals risk their lives every day going after the worst of the worst," Wade said. "This is a sad day for law enforcement."

The shootout took place in Scotlandville, an area north of Baton Rouge.

A task force led by federal Marshals was serving an arrest warrant when the shootout happened, Torres said.

The sheriff said Croom had been on the run since a Feb. 20 shooting outside the Sugar Shack nightclub in Pointe Coupee, a rural parish about 20 miles northwest of Baton Rouge.

Torres said Croom faced two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Lechelle Rita Williams, 42, and her 38-year-old brother Sinica Lee Williams.

Croom, a resident of New Roads, had a lengthy criminal record, Torres said.

"He was a dangerous criminal," Torres said. "It was a very high price to pay for this warrant to bring this man into custody. It was a very, very high price."

Torres said investigators have not established a motive in the shootings of the brother and sister.

Wade said the FBI would lead the investigation into the shooting death of Wells. The FBI referred questions Tuesday to the Marshals Service.

Wells was a graduate of East Central High School in Hurley, Mississippi, and of Jackson State University.

"He was a tremendous student," East Central Principal James Hughey told WLOX-TV. "He was very well liked."

Mississippi state Rep. Manly Barton of Moss Point said Wells' father, Obie Wells Sr., is a retired Jackson County sheriff's deputy. His brother, Obie Wells Jr., is an officer with the Jackson Police Department in the state capital.

"His dad was so proud of him for being a U.S. marshal," Barton said.

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Associated Press Writer Jeff Amy contributed to this report from Jackson, Miss.