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2 suspects in custody after shooting that killed one officer, police say

A Helena-West Helena police officer has died after a man wanted by police began shooting at the officers at the Delta Inn Motel.

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are in northwest Mississippi where two men wanted in connection with the murder of a Helena – West Helena Police Officer on Thursday, Nov. 12 were apprehended early this morning by U.S. Marshals. 

Latarius Quayshun Howard, 29, the suspected gunman in the murder, surrendered without resistance in Shaw, Mississippi shortly after 6 a.m. Friday morning. Bruce Hillie, 24, the alleged getaway driver, was apprehended in Indianola, Mississippi.

The Arkansas State Police will be the lead law enforcement agency to investigate the Thursday evening shooting incident. Special agents assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigation Division will be responsible for preparing an investigative case file for the Phillips County prosecuting attorney who has filed the state’s charges. 

Howard faces a capital murder charge and Hillie is charged with hindering apprehension. Both are being held in the Sunflower County Jail at Indianola, Mississippi and will face an extradition hearing before being returned to Arkansas.

Credit: Latarius Howard

Officer Travis C. Wallace, 41, was struck by gunfire during a gun battle with Howard about 6:11 p.m. Thursday night outside the Delta Inn located at on U.S. Highway 49 in Helena-West Helena. 

Officer Wallace and other local police officers had been looking for Howard who was wanted on charges stemming from a shooting incident in Helena – West Helena about a week ago.

Howard was spotted by Officer Wallace riding in a sport utility vehicle about exit the motel parking lot and turn onto U.S. Highway 49. The officer used his patrol car to block the truck’s exit, at which time Howard exited the vehicle and reportedly began advancing on the officer while firing a gun. 

Officer Wallace returned fire, however there has been no report that Howard was injured. After wounding Officer Wallace, Howard and the driver, believed to be Hillie, then fled from the crime scene.

Officer Wallace was transported to an area hospital where he died at 7:10 p.m.

Chief of Police James Smith of the Helena-West Helena Police Department made the following statement on the shooting of Officer Travis Wallace:

“Officer Travis Wallace was an inspiring and motivated officer who served our community well during his five years of service with our department. My deepest condolences are with Officer Wallace’s family. My thoughts are with the suspects’ families as well, who will also be affected by this tragic incident. Clearly, nobody has won in this battle that our communities are suffering from. I would like to thank all the agencies involved and my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, who assisted in bringing the suspects to face justice. With the grace of God, our community will recover from this and be strong again.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson released the following statement:

“Officer Travis Wallace tragically lost his life protecting his fellow citizens from dangerous criminals. Although he was taken too early from this earth in a despicable act of cowardice, we will all forever remember his brave service. Pray for his family, his fellow officers, and the community of Helena-West Helena.”