FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A man who “was looking for an officer to kill” drove into a police parking lot in northwestern Arkansas, approached an officer who was sitting in a patrol car and shot him point-blank in the head, police said Sunday.
Officer Stephen Carr, 27, was “ambushed and executed" late Saturday outside Fayetteville Police Department headquarters, Chief Mike Reynolds said.
Reynolds said two officers ran outside after hearing gunshots behind the police department at about 9:42 p.m. Saturday and confronted an armed suspect, who they shot and killed. Reynolds identified the suspect as London Phillips, 35, of Fayetteville.
Police said they don't know why he did it but that they believe Phillips set out to kill a police officer.
“All I know is that this was a cowardly act. I have no information that leads me to believe that he targeted this officer specifically. He was looking for an officer to kill," Reynolds said during a news conference Sunday.
Reynolds said Phillips used a 9 mm Taurus pistol and had two boxes of ammunition with him.
Fayetteville police had a “brief history” with Phillips, Reynolds said. Police received a call in December 2018 about Phillips impersonating a police officer, he said. In April, Phillips pawned a gun at a local pawn shop. Reynolds said the owner of the shop would not return the gun because Phillips had a medical marijuana card, which disqualifies someone from possessing a gun in Arkansas.
Reynolds became choked up and appeared to fight back tears during the news conference. He said Carr was from Texas and had joined the Fayetteville police department about 2 1/2 years ago. He was a patrol officer who was assigned to the entertainment district.
“He’s a hero,” Reynolds said.
“He was an all-American boy," he said. “He came from a law enforcement family. He knew what the job was about and he just wanted to serve his community.”
Reynolds said there has been an outpouring of shock, disbelief and support from people in Fayetteville and the surrounding area.
“”I think it just proves that we’re not immune and that officers are being targeted every day throughout our country. It’s just unfortunate," he said.
Fayetteville police have asked the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the FBI to investigate. A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office declined to release details of the investigation Sunday.
Police did not immediately release the names of the two officers who shot Phillips. Under city and police department policy, both officers have been placed on administrative leave until Reynolds can review the results of the investigation.
The fatal Arkansas shooting followed the shooting death of a Houston police officer Saturday night.
Son of retired Houston police sergeant
The Houston Police Officers’ Union said in a tweet that Carr was the son of a retired Houston Police Department sergeant. Carr’s father was identified as Paul Carr.
Last night, senseless tragedy struck in Fayetteville as well as here in Houston. Officer Stephen Carr, son of a retired HPD Sergeant, was ambushed and murdered. "Evidence shows that Officer Carr was executed while sitting in his patrol vehicle."https://t.co/7Xxfeh6Z5A pic.twitter.com/1fvudbborK— Houston Police Officers' Union (@HPOUTX) December 8, 2019
“Carr was a decorated HPD officer, I actually worked underneath him in his time at North Station, exceptional Sergeant Who recently retired. He was very proud of his son who had chosen to take up the mantle of law enforcement. In addition, his mother was a law enforcement officer here with HPD and unfortunately last night we had a coward. A dirtbag who knew nothing more than just to kill an officer because he was in a police uniform,” said the President of the Houston Officers Union Joe Gamaldi.
Carr’s Houston connection
Carr was remembered Sunday night in the Houston area.
Carr grew up in The Woodlands area and graduated from The Woodlands High School in 2011.
Former Woodlands head football coach, Mark Schmid, said he remembers Carr as a gentle giant, who was always polite and courteous.
“Stephen was such a good kid in high school. A great teammate, really a hardworking kid,” Schmid said.
Schmid said Carr was an offensive lineman. He played on the Varsity team his Junior and Senior year and went on to play for Southwest Baptist University.
Schmid said they always knew he would end up being a police officer.
"His father was a police officer and we kind of knew Stephen was going to follow his dad’s footsteps. So for him to do that was no surprise,” Schmid said.
Carr was part of the Fayetteville police department for 2 1/2 years.
Schmid called his death a senseless act of violence.
“It’s a sad day when people that choose to serve and protect us and help us a sense of safety and security in our daily lives when they become targets,” he said.
Funeral arrangements set
The visitation for Officer Stephen Carr will be held Wednesday at the University Baptist Church at 333 W, Maple St. Fayetteville, AR from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The funeral service will be held on Thursday at Bud Walton Arena at 1270 Leroy Pond Dr. Fayetteville, AR at 1 p.m.
Both of these services are open to the public, and there will be more information to follow reference parking and accessibility.
The Fayetteville Police Department released the following statement:
“We also wanted to take a moment to thank the outpouring of support from our citizens, community, and supporters nationwide. The support has been heartwarming and has been a beacon of light in this dark time for our agency. We have been lifted up by food, donations, but most of all kind words and hugs.”