Mississippi police officer killed, three wounded after standoff

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 20, 2016 12:26 PM

(Reuters) - A Mississippi policeman who worked in an anti-narcotics squad was killed on Saturday and three other officers were wounded in a shootout with a suspect during a standoff in the northeastern corner of the state, according to local officials.

The suspect was also killed in the exchange early Saturday morning in a rural area of Tishomingo County near Iuka, about 118 miles east of Memphis, Tennessee, according to County Coroner Mack Wilemon.

James Lee Tartt, 44, of Grenada, a state narcotics bureau officer, was killed, Wilemon said. A married father of two and a 22-year law enforcement veteran, he had won a Bureau of Narcotics agent of the year award in 2011, and had unsuccessfully run for Grenada County sheriff last year.

The suspect killed was Charles Lee Lambert, 45, Wilemon said. Both were white. The three other officers were hospitalized and their conditions were not immediately known, Wilemon said.

In a statement on Saturday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant asked residents to pray for Tartt's family.

"This is a tragic reminder that their willingness to serve can exact the highest price," Bryant said, referring to the state's law enforcement officers.

A representative for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, which includes the Bureau of Narcotics, was not immediately available for comment. The department's Facebook page showed a sign of mourning - with the state in black with a blue line across it.

Tartt's death follows other shootings of police officers in Mississippi in the past year, including two Hattiesburg officers killed last May, and a Clarksdale officer shot in the head and left in a critical condition after responding to a robbery this month.

Saturday's shooting developed out of a hostage situation in a home on Friday afternoon, Wilemon said. Officials told reporters on the scene on Friday night that the suspect had taken his wife and child hostage, and witnesses said he later released them, the Clarion-Ledger paper said.

Tartt and the wounded officers were part of a SWAT team that stormed the house, Wilemon said.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Nerys Avery)