LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas officials offered words of tribute Tuesday for a Newport police officer who was killed in the line of duty Monday evening.
Lt. Patrick Weatherford, 41, a 15-year veteran of the Newport Police Department, was responding to a call about a vehicle break-in between Bowen Street and Newport Avenue around 6 p.m. Monday when he and other officers saw and began chasing a person who was fleeing on foot, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Tuesday in a televised news conference.
Sadler said the fleeing person entered a residential area and allegedly turned and fired a gun. Weatherford was shot and later died at a Newport hospital.
An 18-year-old surrendered to Newport police around 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sadler said during the news conference. Later Tuesday, the Arkansas State Police said Tyler Jermiale Calamese, 18, is scheduled to appear in Jackson County District Court at 9 a.m. Wednesday for a bond hearing in connection with the investigation.
The agency said that as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, no criminal charges had been filed in the investigation.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson ordered Tuesday that state flags be flown at half-staff in Weatherford’s honor until the fallen officer is laid to rest.
In a statement Tuesday, Hutchinson said, “We are forever indebted to men and women like Lt. Weatherford, who put their lives on the line every day to keep others safe. Our hearts go out to his family, the law enforcement community and the Newport Police Department during this difficult time.”
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said in a statement, “Arkansans mourn the loss of Lt. Weatherford as we recognize and honor his sacrifice in the line of duty. My thoughts and prayers are also with the Newport Police Department and the broader law enforcement community as they mourn the loss of one of their own.”
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement, “Today marks the end of watch for Lt. Patrick Weatherford, the Jackson County Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2016. Lt. Weatherford was known for routinely preventing incidents and altercations from escalating into crisis, and I have no doubt that Lt. Weatherford began his watch today with the same mission to protect and serve the community he loved so much.”
U.S. Sen. John Boozman said on the Senate floor Tuesday that Weatherford was a graduate of Arkansas State University-Newport and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a recent graduate of the FBI Academy.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Lt. Weatheford’s family and friends as well as the community he served, which will no doubt miss him dearly,” Boozman said.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement, “Lt. Weatherford was a 15-year veteran of the Newport police force who just last year was recognized as the Jackson County officer of the year for his outstanding performance and unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our state. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, fellow officers and the entire Newport community.”
State Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, whose district includes parts of Jackson County and Newport, said in a statement, “Lt. Patrick Weatherford’s dedication to service was and will continue to be an inspiration to all of us in the 47th District and throughout Arkansas. We will remember his life the way he lived it every day: with honor, valor, and a kind spirit.”
At Tuesday’s news conference, Newport Police Chief Michael Scudder choked up as he talked about Weatherford.
“Yesterday we lost as member of our department. We didn’t just lose a police officer; we lost a really good friend,” Scudder said.
“We’re hurting,” he said.