On Wednesday Aug. 10, Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cooper was fatally wounded at a home near Hackett by Billy Monroe Jones, 35, of Hackett. Jones has two prior felony convictions in Sebastian County. Jones was scheduled to go to trial Aug. 18 in connection with a Feb. 16 arrest for possession of Oxycodone, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a weapon. Jones was free on a $5,000 bond and was due in Sebastian County Circuit Court on Wednesday on a petition to revoke a suspended sentence.
Sometime before 7 a.m. Jones went to his father’s house for tools and reportedly pointed a gun at his father before fleeing from the scene.
Cooper and Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells responded to a call at 4722 South Highway 253 at 7 a.m.
At 7:08 a.m., deputies of the Sheriff’s Office and officers with the Greenwood and Hackett police departments arrived at the scene. Jones appeared to be holding an assault rifle and wearing a ballistic vest. Jones shot at the officers, striking Cooper in the neck and grazing Spells’ head.
Law enforcement officers attempted to negotiate with Jones who surrendered at 11:46 a.m.
Cooper was transported to Sparks Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery but died from his injuries at about 1:15 p.m.
Jones also shot Greenwood K-9 Officer Kina and a bomb squad’s robot. Two pounds of the explosive Tannerite were found inside the house.
S.W.A.T. teams from the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Smith, Van Buren police departments and Arkansas State Police were dispatched to the scene and law enforcement from several surrounding communities showed up to assist. More than 300 officers were on scene of the shooting as well as Sebastian County EMS, Fort Smith EMS and county first responders. Three helicopter flew in and landed in a nearby field. Helicopters were on hand from St. Mary’s, Life Flight and the Arkansas State Police.
Jones is being held in the Crawford County Detention Center on two felony warrants for first-degree battery and possession of firearms by a certain persons. In addition Jones is now charged with capital murder and 10 counts of attempted murder for the gunfight which are all class Y felonies. Jones is also charged with shooting the K9, which is a class D felony and being a felon in possession of a firearm, a class B felony. It is unknown as of press time whether Sebastian County Prosecutor Daniel Shue will seek the death penalty. An arraignment hearing for Jones is scheduled for Aug. 17, precautionary measures with Jones will be taken while transporting him to court.
Thursday morning, authorities from several agencies paid their respects to Cooper by participating in a caravan on Interstate 40. The caravan and brought Cooper’s body from the State Crime Lab in Little Rock back to Sebastian County to prepare for funeral arrangements.
To show their respects many have brought flowers, balloons and other miscellaneous items to the memorial marker in front of the Sheriff’s Office in Fort Smith.
Cooper was a corporal with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson released the following statement in response to Cooper’s death: “I am deeply saddened by the news that Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cooper has passed away after being shot in the line of duty this morning,” said Hutchinson. “Today’s shooting incident, which also resulted in injuries to Hackett Chief of Police Darrell Spells, tragically illustrates the dangers our law enforcement officers face each and every day to keep us safe.
On behalf of all Arkansans, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to Deputy Cooper’s loved ones and our entire law enforcement community. We stand with you during this difficult time.”
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Deputy Bill Cooper Memorial Fund set up at Farmers Bank, the American Cancer Society, 5434 Walsh Lane, Rogers, AR 72758, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. Bill’s favorite flower was the rose.