The Bay St. Louis police chief shot himself to death outside the police station after being suspended in an investigation into illegal gun sales, according to KFVS-TV and The Associated Press.
A sheriff’s official says the shooting appears to have been intentional, according to The Associated Press.
Officials, including the mayor, were initially very cryptic about the reasons for De Nardo’s suspension in the wake of his death.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Shooting Occurred Outside the Police Station & the Chief Was Under Investigation Regarding Gun Sales
After the shooting on September 8 outside the police station, De Nardo was rushed to the hospital, and he was initially reported to be in critical condition, said WAPT-TV. He later died.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department said he shot himself, said WGNO-TV.
The Sun Herald says, according to the Sheriff, that De Nardo was relieved of his duties as police chief before he shot himself. The newspaper reports that two deputies were present to confiscate equipment and escort De Nardo from the building.
Officials were initially very hesitant to provide details, with the mayor saying only that the investigation was in its initial stage and that there was “credible evidence” of something.
However, The Associated Press now says De Nardo was under investigation for allegations that “he illegally sold city-owned firearms, including an assault rifle”; the investigation included payroll fraud.
2. A ‘Commotion’ Broke Out Before De Nardo Shot Himself, Reports Say
The Sun Herald reports that “a commotion” occurred as De Nardo spoke to deputies, and he then shot himself.
The Associated Press says De Nardo shot himself in the police department’s parking lot.
Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam told WLOX, “We were here to assist the City of Bay St. Louis and their mayor to escort Chief DeNardo from the office and obtain his city issued equipment. At that time, it just kind of went bad, I guess. The mayor called him in. He asked us to come and ask for his equipment. My guys were there, and that’s it.” Adam’s agency has now been given temporary control over the police department, said WLOX.
De Nardo left behind apology letters, says AP, adding that the investigation started with an anonymous tip.
3. The Chief Rose Through the Ranks in Bay St. Louis PD
“De Nardo has been with the Bay St. Louis Police Department since 2004 and has risen through the ranks serving as a patrolman, patrol supervisor, Deputy Chief and was appointed as Chief of Police in 2010 by Mayor Les Fillingame,” said his official biography.
Bay police Capt. Wes Mayley is now the acting chief.
The mayor told the Associated Press he thought De Nardo would have been cleared in the investigation, and added, “He was just a tremendous public servant, and he’s going to be greatly missed.”
According to the chief’s online biography, he was “a 30 year law enforcement veteran having served for 18 years at the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office as a patrol supervisor and S.W.A.T. commander.”
De Nardo’s mother had recently passed away, said The AP.
4. The Chief Shot Himself in the Chest, Reports Say
According to WCBI News, the police chief shot himself in the chest in a self-inflicted wound. Sheriff’s officials believe he was still in uniform, the AP says.
WXXV 25 reported that many in the community were in shock after the police chief’s death.
5. The Chief Called It an Honor to Serve in the Position
On the Police Department website, De Nardo had said, “The City of Bay St. Louis is an outstanding community to live and to work in, and it is an honor to serve as your Chief of Police.”
He spoke of the future.
“As we move ahead, I look forward to meeting our obligation to provide the best police services possible. As we develop programs, implement new technology and take on new initatives, our department joins the rest of the Bay St. Louis city government and regards our citizens as our highest priority. Our primary function is to ensure the safety of the people who live, work and visit the City of Bay St. Louis.”