A police officer was shot and killed behind the police station in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the chief described it as an execution that occurred as the officer waited in a parking lot for his partner. He said that the suspect appeared to have no motive.
The shooting, which took place as a Christmas lights event unfolded nearby in Fayetteville Square, sparked widespread panic. The deceased officer has been named as Stephen Carr, who joined the force in 2017. “Ëvidence shows that Officer Carr was ambushed and executed while sitting his patrol vehicle,” police said in a news release. “He served our community with dedication and professionalism for the past 2 1/2 years, he is a HERO.” The gunman was named as London Phillips, 35, of Fayetteville. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the officer’s family.
According to a GoFundMe page established to help his family, Officer Carr “was hired by the department in April of 2017. He was assigned as a patrol officer and was most recently working the Dickson street entertainment district.”
Kelly O’Neill, a KNWA-TV journalist, revealed the tragic news: “Fayetteville Chief of Police Mike Reynolds confirms the shooter and a police officer has died. It happened at 9:40pm in the back parking lot of the Fayetteville Police Department.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Stephen Carr Was Described as Dedicated & Professional; He Worked at Sam’s Club & as a Coach Before Becoming a Police Officer
According to a news release from Fayetteville police, Carr “served our community with dedication and professionalism for the past 2 ½ years, he is a HERO. We would like to thank our community for their outpouring of support, along with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their quick response and assistance. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Carr’s family during this tragic time.”
People left cards and flowers in tribute to Officer Carr at the Police Department. On his LinkedIn page, Carr wrote that he worked at Sam’s Club as an assistant manager in Fayetteville before joining the police force. He was also a student assistant coach at Southwest Baptist University for two years.
Carr also worked in the past as a personal trainer at HCP Barbell. He had a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance from Southwest Baptist University. He graduated from The Woodlands High School, where he was in football, wrestling, and track.
On Saturday, December 7, 2019 at approximately 9:42 PM, “gun shots were heard behind the Fayetteville Police Department. Officers inside the police department immediately responded and heard additional gunshots,” police wrote in a news release.
Police gave more details on the tragedy in the news release.
“Officers located an armed suspect directly behind the police department, later identified as London T. Phillips 35 of Fayetteville. The armed suspect had a confrontation with officers resulting in the officers firing their weapons at the suspect. Directly following the shooting officers located Officer Stephen Carr shot inside his patrol vehicle, while parked at the police department.”
Officers immediately rendered aid to both the officer and suspect. “At approximately 9:45PM, Fayetteville Fire Department and Central EMS arrived on scene and began life saving efforts for both the officer and suspect. Both the wounded officer and suspect succumbed to their injuries and died at the scene,” the news release says.
The Chief Described the Murder as an Execution
In a press conference broadcast on Periscope, the chief said, “The suspect came in the back parking lot and just executed my officer….The suspect was down in the alley and the officer was down in the back parking lot.” He said it appears there is only one suspect. He said the shooting took place in the parking lot where officers park their cars. “The officer was waiting on his partner” when the suspect walked up and shot him, he said.
The chief said that officers had “located one of our officers down next to one of our cruisers. Our officer had been shot. We engaged with the bad guy. Chased the suspect into the alley just south of the PD, which separates the police department and city prosecutor’s office. They encountered the suspect. Engaged the suspect.” He said the suspect “had no motive at all.” The names have not been released, but both the officer and suspect are deceased, the chief said.
Earlier, the television station had reported that “a shooting happened shortly before 10 p.m. on Rock Street, according to Central EMS. Rock Street is near the Fayetteville Square.” 5News reported that the coroner was at the scene and there was heavy police presence downtown. 4029TV described the incident as reports of “shots fired” at the intersection of Archibald and Block.
People said they heard 15-20 gunshots in rapid succession, and a shooting occurred “behind the police station,” journalist Andrew Epperson said on Twitter. “Clearly something has gone on here outside the square…a very serious situation going on here.” Epperson said there was a “large police presence. They were carrying rifles, and barking out orders.”
One social media account said that “people are hiding in the restaurants on the square,” and that authorities were doing CPR on a police officer. Another man wrote on Twitter, “CONFIRMED: People at the Town Square who were previously taking shelter have been told they are allowed to leave in safety by Police. #Fayetteville.”
You can listen to live scanner audio for Fayetteville here. Police said at one point that they were walking two witnesses down, and they referred to a patient. They also spoke on the scanner about creating a staging area for the news media. Police said they didn’t need anymore help from surrounding agencies.
Panic Broke Out at the Lights of the Ozarks
Lisa Brence, a news director for KNWA-TV, was at the Christmas lights event when the incident occurred. At first, people thought the shooting had happened at the Lights of the Ozarks event at Fayetteville Square or they weren’t sure what was going on.
“Commotion on #FayettevilleAR Square during Lights of the Ozarks. Shane & I were literally taking this pic when everyone started running & screaming ‘shooter,'” Brence wrote. “Police sirens & lights immediately followed. We are working to get info. No word yet if it’s legit.” Tragically, it later turned out that the officer was shot and killed.
Dan Skoff, a metereologist for KNWA, wrote, “Lots of Police presence on the Fayetteville Square. Heard reports from a few minutes ago of a shots fired and possible injuries. Did anyone experience this? It was packed there tonight and now no one is walking around now.”
The website for Lights of the Ozarks says, “Each year Fayetteville Parks and Recreation workers spend over 3,300 hours decorating the Downtown Square with over 400,000 lights. Holiday activities on the Historic Downtown Square will be going on through December 31, weather permitting.”
Edwin Santos wrote on Twitter, “Thank you Fayetteville police. I’m blessed my son and I are safe. Scariest thing I’ve done as a parent.”
“Shooting on the Fayetteville square during the Christmas lights show smh we can’t have anything nice,” wrote another person on Twitter.
“Jesus Christ we were going to the bar in Fayetteville square tonight and decided to stay at the sorority house playing f*cking Mafia and there is a f*cking shooting. I’m shaking. We should have been there right now. We have sisters there right now. Jesus,” one woman wrote on Twitter.
Others were more succinct. “There is an active shooter on the Fayetteville square. Be careful everyone. ?” wrote one man.
“Y’all I don’t have a ton of details but it sounds like you should stay away from the Fayetteville square right now. Reports of an incident coming in. Not sure what it is yet. Stay safe,” a man wrote.
This post is being updated as more information is learned about the shooting.