2 police officers, 1 suspect killed in Louisiana

Published 10:33 am Saturday, August 11, 2007

BASTROP, La. (AP) — A shootout at a hotel on the main square of this northeastern Louisiana city left two police officers and one suspect dead Friday, and authorities were searching for another suspect.

Two paramedics were also hit by gunfire when they arrived at the scene, said Trooper Mark Dennis, a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police. One was in stable condition and the other was not seriously hurt, Dennis said.

It was not clear what sparked the shooting, or whether the suspect was killed in the initial shootout or by officers who arrived later. State police took over the investigation and would not answer detailed questions late Friday about how the shootings occurred.

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The slain officers were identified by state police as Bastrop police detectives John Smith, 40, who had been with the agency for 18 years, and Charles ‘‘Chuck’’ Wilson, 34, who had 11 years with the department. State police would not identify the dead suspect.

Shots were first fired around 1:30 p.m., Dennis said, and police entered the hotel around 4 p.m. Buildings in and around the hotel were sealed off.

Police searched the hotel and surrounding areas for a 26-year-old woman linked to a stolen car from Texas found at the hotel. The woman also is being investigated in a killing in Harris County, Texas, Dennis said.

Bastrop Police Chief Alan Freeman would not answer questions about the investigation, but said Wilson had received a call shortly after lunch in reference to a possible suspect at the hotel. Wilson asked Smith to go with him, Freeman said.

‘‘Those two were good friends. They trusted each other. If one got information on something and he needed backup, he would call the other one,’’ Freeman said.

The shootings happened in the main square of this city of about 12,000, near the courthouse.

‘‘I was sitting in my office about 1:30 and heard what I thought was somebody banging on a piece of tin,’’ said Mark Rainwater, editor of the Bastrop Daily Enterprise newspaper.

A reporter sent to investigate dropped to the ground after hearing the gunfire. ‘‘I walked outside and saw him crawling, literally, across the street,’’ Rainwater said.

‘‘The department is just devastated now,’’ said Mayor Clarence Hawkins. ‘‘They’ve all worked together as patrol people, in all capacities. The whole city is just in a state of shock. Stuff like this doesn’t happen in Bastrop.’’