Detectives With No Body Armor Shot While Stopping Walmart Gunman

Sandy Malone

Two Forrest City police detectives were shot as they rushed toward an armed suspect to protect others from harm.

Forrest City, AR – Two police officers were shot and the gunman was killed in a terrifying shootout inside the grocery section of a Walmart in eastern Arkansas on Monday morning.

Forrest City Mayor Cedric Williams said the incident began at about 10:44 a.m. when Walmart security called 911 to report a man who was behaving strangely and who had threatened people inside the store located in the 200-block of Deaderick Road.

“Our officers engaged the suspect, and the suspect is deceased,” Williams told reporters at a press conference from City Hall.

Forrest City Police Chief Deon Lee said that dispatchers put out the call over the radio about the gunman and officers responded.

Chief Lee said the first two officers who arrived on the scene were members of the Criminal Investigations Division.

As such, neither officer was equipped with a bodycam, nor were they wearing ballistic vests, he said.

The chief said that Lt. Eric Varner and Detective Eugene Watlington were “dressed as detectives” when they arrived at the Walmart, and that they knew the risks associated with rushing in to confront the suspect.

He said Lt. Varner and Det. Watlington just happened to be close to the area when the call went out and arrived ahead of patrol units who were wearing their vests.

“With the officers bravery and quick response, many lives were saved today,” the mayor told reporters.

Lt. Varner was transported to Forrest City Medical Center where he was treated for his gunshot wound and released, Chief Lee said.

The chief had just finished visiting with Det. Watlington’s family at Regional One Hospital in Memphis where the detective remained in surgery.

He told reporters that the prognosis was not as bad as they originally thought, but didn’t detail what they originally believed to be Det. Watlington’s condition.

The chief said Det. Watlington was “doing better than we expected.”

Chief Lee praised Lt. Varner and Det. Watlington’s fast response to the scene.

“It could have been a whole lot worse than what it ended up being,” he said.

The chief said that gunman was known to police but referred reporters to an Arkansas State Police press conference later on Monday for details.

The mayor said the Walmart had been shut down and remained an active crime scene.

Chief Lee said the Arkansas State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Office, and several other local law enforcement agencies have responded to the scene to assist the Forrest City Police Department.

“We’re thankful for everybody working together,” the mayor said.

A spokesman for Walmart told WMC that they were aware of the situation and working with the police, and referred all questions back to the Forrest City police.

They said the store would remain closed until the investigation had been completed.

Comments (26)
No. 1-19
stooge819
stooge819

Balls. Great job Brothers. Get well soon, and thank you for your service.

Wwolfwp61
Wwolfwp61

So any description or details on the leftist Antifa piece of garbage wannabe killer?

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

Impressive! I know Detectives wear suits and carry guns, but to charge into an active shooter situation like that, which isn't their job, by title, is above and beyond the call of duty.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Alleged shooter Bobby Joe Gibbs, 40

Lt Eric Varner

Detective Eugene Watlington

flybynight
flybynight

Sure is quiet over here. 🙄

GIJOE62
GIJOE62

Prayers for LT Varner and Detective Watlington, you both put your lives above anyone else's to stop the threat. You saved a lot of lives today. Your department should be proud to have someone like you serving with them.

reverett456117502
reverett456117502

Glad the shooter is history, kudos to the Officer's who risk everything for everyone else! Wishing you a speedy recovery.

SWAT
SWAT

Praying ether officers and their families along with the blue family. God speed get well soon

Rascal1966
Rascal1966

I'm glad these officers are okay and got to go home to their families!!

As for the piece of shit who started this crap, good riddance! Lots of tax dollars were saved for not having to pay for your trial, lawyer, medical expenses and your 3 hots and a cot.

DarrellB
DarrellB

The title leads you to believe the complete opposite of the story. My first Dept. only had flak vests. I bought my first Safariland that week. 5 years ago, cameras were not provided. I bought mine, and rifle plates on an active shooter vest.
Sometimes you have to spend money on yourself for the sake of yourself and your family.
These guys are the definition of Law Enforcement Officers and Defenders of Citizens. Gentlemen, all my thanks and prayers to you both and your families.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

#wheredhegetthegun #ultimatesource #needregistry

Stanracer
Stanracer

The usual suspect! Glad the detectives are going to be ok.

Szrudy3
Szrudy3

I can't tell you how sorry I am that we have people like that shooter, out free It says the shooter was known to the police I want the police protected and the criminal to pay for their crime

Finally I thank the 2 brave men for their service and their bravery

JCRPI
JCRPI

Never underrate the non-uniformed officers; most have done their time down in the "mud and the blood and the beer" and going to the "sound of the guns" will forever be their MO!

Schick56
Schick56

🙏🙏🙏

Trooper Cooper
Trooper Cooper

1982 in uniform for funeral duty. The rest of the day scheduled and planned to be off the street doing paper work so I decided not to wear my vest, the only day I never wore my vest. One hour or so before the funeral received a call of an armed robber headed into our area. Decided I would take a quick look around before I went to the funeral. Looking for a red car, stop a brown car to ask the man if he had seen the bank robber, he was the bank robber, shot me once in the head and four times in the back. Three of the four in the back would have no doubt been stopped by my vest and the fourth one would have been on the seam and probably been stopped. I am so glad you guys survived and pray for physical and emotional healing. My question is how can anyone in law enforcement justify not wearing your vest? I don't give a dang what your assignment is. Plain clothes, uniform, desk duty, sro, patrol, funeral assignment, paper work, it doesn't matter there is no reason good enough to not wear your vest all the time. If you carry your weapon and badge off duty and have the mind set that you would put yourself into an armed conflict then you owe it to your loved ones to protect yourself to the max. Which means wear a vest, yes even off duty. Forrest City PD if I can be of service, assist your officers or their families in any way please let me know. I will check here for a while in case someone wants to contact me.

DR226
DR226

So, how's Walmarts policies on gun free zones and discontinued sales of ammo going? Not to good and nothing will change except their bottom line. Thank you detectives for an exceptional job, get well soon.

Terminaters168
Terminaters168

I was wondering if it was a 13%er? Who am I kidding it had to be


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