2 Deputies Wounded; Suspect Killed
LAGRANGE, Tenn. -- Two Fayette County sheriff's deputies survived shotgun wounds Thursday but a loner responsible for the shootings was killed during apprehension. The deputies were in fair condition at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis Thursday night.
The dead man was identified as Ervin Jones, 53, who had logged several arrests in recent years for aggravated assault and disorderly conduct. Jones was reportedly a veteran who lived in a van and whose military training helped him evade searchers in the wooded, rural area of southern Fayette County for more than four hours. He was described alternately as hard working and temperamental.
Dozens of police, dog squads from West Tennessee and North Mississippi and a Memphis Police Department helicopter aided in the manhunt through the woods and fields of the area about 25 miles east of Collierville.
Jones was killed about 3:30 p.m.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was investigating the shootings.
"It has been a very trying day for the Sheriff's Department, and a very trying few weeks for the Sheriff's Department," said Insp. Ray Garcia.
He referred to the traffic death of Deputy Jeremy Reynolds last month, and the shootings Thursday.
Garcia said about 11 a.m. Thursday Lt. Doug Davis, 49, was routinely checking Beasley Road when he approached a suspicious white van parked on a field road.
Garcia said some details were vague, but Jones emerged from the vehicle and shot Davis with a 20-gauge shotgun, sending pellet wounds into the officer's face, arm, upper body and back.
Garcia said it was not clear how close Jones was when he fired, or how quickly the events took place.
"He was able to get away from the area and radioed for backup."
Davis was airlifted to The Med.
Meanwhile, the suspect fled on foot and evaded arrest for the better part of the day in a "very rural" area, Garcia said.
As a helicopter hovered overhead, police dogs tracked Jones to Yager Road, between Corbitt Road and Honeysuckle Road, within a few miles of the original shooting scene.
Garcia did not know where Jones was hiding.
He said Jones fired at officers, and hit Deputy Al Freeman in the face and upper body. Officers returned gunfire and shot Jones.
Freeman was airlifted to The Med.
Freeman and Davis have yet to be questioned, Garcia said. Both sustained nonserious injuries and are likely to be released from the hospital in the next day or two.
Both are veteran law officers, with 15 to 20 years service.
Garcia said Jones had been arrested four times in the past decade for aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection or disorderly conduct. He did not have the disposition of the cases.
The Fayette County Sheriff's Department has about 30 full-time deputies, he said.
Area residents said Jones had worked odd jobs around LaGrange for several years.
Wallace Witmer, who owns two general stores at LaGrange Road and Tenn. 57, said he occasionally hired Jones to sweep or pick up trash.
He described Jones as "an unusual guy" who lived in his van, and who could be temperamental at times.
He said he and his wife gave Jones chili, a sandwich and blankets Wednesday night but they didn't know he had a weapon.
Shelby County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Shular said the department sent about 20 officers from SWAT, gang and canine units. "Some additional personnel from detectives and patrol division command staff also went up.
"When you are in a situation like this, it is vital that law enforcement agencies respond, and we did."