FORREST CITY, Ark. — Two officers are recovering after being shot inside a local Walmart Monday morning.
Police were called to the Walmart in Forrest City to assist with a man who was acting strange and threatening people, according to officials.
Once the two officers arrived, they confronted the suspect, who St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May identified as Bobby Joe Gibbs. He pulled out a gun and shot both officers, officials said. Both officers returned fire and shot and killed Gibbs, according to the sheriff.
“Want to thank officers for expedient time getting out there,” said Forrest City Mayor Cedric Williams. “Could’ve been whole lot worse.”
One of the officers, Detective Eugene Watlington, was shot four times. He was taken to Regional One, was in critical condition and underwent surgery.
FOX13 was at Regional One when Detective Watlington arrived at the hospital for care.
Lt. Eric Varner was also shot. He was taken to Forrest City Medical Center for treatment.
“Unfortunately that’s the business we are in and the guys know the risks and work for the challenge,” said Forrest City Police Chief Deon Lee.
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“Due to their heroicism and quick response that no civilians were injured,” Williams said.
A friend of those two officers said they saved lives today after the Walmart shooting.
“They didn’t run from it, they run to it,” said Joshua Parson. “It’s no telling how many lives they saved.”
“Nobody knows what this person was capable of and he was in there to do some harm to somebody. They prevented it from happening to anybody else and I give them props for that.”
The Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special agents are responding to the scene as well.
Arkansas State Police has taken over the investigation.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin took to Twitter to share about the event.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the officers injured in the Forrest City shooting. Senseless acts like these demonstrate the dangers our law enforcement officers face every day to keep us safe.— Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin
Walmart has released the following statement:
We are aware of the incident that took place at our store in Forrest City, AR this morning. We will continue to work with the Forrest City Police Department to assist in their investigation. As this is an active investigation, any additional questions should be referred to the Forrest City Police Department.— Scott Pope, Director, National Media Relations, Walmart
This is the second shooting reported inside a Mid-South Walmart during the month of February.
Earlier this month, shots rang out inside the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Hickory Hill.