FORT SMITH - He geared himself up every day with a ballistic vest and a gun on his hip, told his family and friends he loved them and he would be 10-4 (OK) while journeying out into Sebastian County to serve and protect.
Wednesday was different. Sebastian County Cpl. William "Bill" or "Coop" Cooper, 65, left his residence and went straight to a disturbance call. Later that day, his family got that call ... the call families and friends of those who risk their lives every day to protect and serve dread — a 999, meaning officer down. Cooper wasn't 10-4 and would never return home.
At 7:39 a.m. Wednesday, Cooper was shot in the neck at the scene by suspect Billy Monroe Jones, 35, of Hackett, according to the Sebasatian County Sheriff's Office.
Cooper was taken to Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, where he underwent surgery, was put on life-support and a few hours later, about 1:15 p.m., succumbed to his wound.
He was employed with the Sheriff's Office for about 15 years and prior to that, was employed for five years at the Fort Smith Police Department. He was set to retire soon.
He also served the nation in the U.S. Marine Corps. Cooper leaves behind a wife, three children and many friends and law enforcement family.
"Bill was dynamic. He loved his job," said Sebastian County Sheriff William "Bill" Hollenbeck. "He could've retired years ago, but he loved his community so much, that he stayed on, serving and protecting, with the Sheriff's Office. He loved the men and women whom he worked with. He was extremely close to the people in the special services division in which he worked, and they loved him. He knew that they loved him."
Cooper was known around the Sheriff's Office for his honesty and integrity.
"Our department and the community have both suffered a tremendous loss today," said Renee Flesher, Sebastian County Sheriff's Office Communications Coordinator. "He would do anything for anyone, anytime. I've never met a person that had a bad thing to say about him. He used to come in to dispatch every day and tell us, "love y'all this morning," and we're going to miss that. There will be a deafening silence in the communication center every day without Cooper's laugh and love. We will still love him every day."
Emotions were running high in the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday.
"I had the opportunity to work with Bill on several occasions — the kid (finger) prints, the DWI driving program and so forth, and while he loved protecting, he was especially happy around all the kids, and they really responded to him. ...," said a tearful Danny Aldridge, Sebastian County Quorum Court justice of the peace.
Lt. Philip Pevehouse with the Sheriff's Office also shared a memory of his friend.
"Bill was a wonderful man. He certainly loved his job to the utmost and got the biggest kicks out of the simplest things like fingerprinting a child, or when at the Kiwanis Boys Camp driving the boys on four-wheelers and covered in mud from head-to-toe, and I asked him, 'Are you alright, Bill?' and he said to me, ' am having the time of my life.' He loved people, and that's why he was in this business," Pevehouse said.
Mountainburg Police Chief Vincent Clamser said he lost a friend.
"I am truly saddened," Clamser said. "Bill was the kind of cop I inspired to be. He was always smiling and had a huge love for people. He was my friend and brother. What a loss for our community."