PINE BLUFF — On Saturday morning, centenarian Monroe Isadore had his belongings packed and was looking forward to moving into a new home, according to longtime friend Laurie Barlow.
By the end of the day, Isadore was dead at the age of 107 after exchanging gunfire with Pine Bluff police officers following an hours-long standoff.
"It’s been a real big shock," Barlow, who was inside the home at 1411 W. 16th Ave. in Pine Bluff when the episode began that ultimately led to Isadore’s death, said in an interview with The Commercial. "We had been friends for over 30 years. He was always there for me and I was there for him. I wish he was still with us today. But he’s not."
Barlow said Isadore had been staying at the house while friends and relatives prepared an apartment for him. He was was to have moved into his new home Saturday.
"He was packed and ready to go," Barlow said Monday. "We told him we wanted to get it cleaned up for him."
According to Barlow, however, Isadore had complained that a relative was abusive toward him, and that relative had been to the house and upset Isadore on Saturday. When Barlow returned to the house to take Isadore to his new home, he had a gun.
"He couldn’t see and he couldn’t hardly hear," she said. "He was scared (the relative) was trying to take him. He said ‘Don’t come in my house.’ "
Barlow said that when she cracked the door to the bedroom where Isadore was, he shut it. When she cracked it again, she said, Isadore raised a handgun.
"Monroe is not a person to harm anybody," she said. "He would defend himself. He was just scared. He couldn’t see me. He thought I was (the relative.)"
Barlow said the woman who owned the house was present at the time, as well as others, including two children. She said the children were taken out of the house, and eventually the adults left the home as well and police were called.
The Pine Bluff Police Department said officers responded about 4:25 p.m.
"When police announced themselves, Isadore shot through a door at them," the department said in a news release.
The officers moved to a safer area and called out supervisors as well as a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team.
The police department’s statement said supervisors began negotiating with Isadore as soon as they arrived. The SWAT unit inserted a camera into the bedroom and confirmed that Isadore was armed with a handgun. The unit then inserted gas into the room in hopes that Isadore would surrender peacefully, according to the statement.
"Isadore fired rounds at the SWAT officers that had inserted the gas from outside a bedroom window," the news release said. "Shortly afterwards, a SWAT entry team, inside the residence, breached the door to the bedroom and threw a distraction device into the bedroom. Isadore then began to fire on the entry team and the entry team engaged Isadore, killing him."
The shooting is under investigation and one officer has been placed on administrative leave with pay during the probe, police said.
Barlow said she was present outside the house during the entire standoff.
"I stayed the whole time," she said. "I wasn’t leaving him."
Some residents in the neighborhood who spoke with a reporter on Sunday were critical of police handling of the situation, but Barlow said she didn’t feel qualified to offer an opinion.
"I’m not going to comment on that," she said. "I don’t know the rules. I will not say anything bad about the police. They kept us informed about what they were going to do."
At the end, Barlow said, police delivered tragic news.
"The one man that was in charge came out and said ‘I’m sorry. He fired at my men and we had to take him out.’ "
Funeral arrangements for Isadore were pending Monday evening at Brown Funeral Home.