Mug shot of Carnell Gaines Jr., from 2002 (Source: Mississippi Department of Public Safety)
Michael J. Walter (Source: Pearl Police Department)
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
The University of Mississippi Medical Center has confirmed a Pearl police officer has died and two others are in good condition after a shooting at The Grande at Colony Park apartment complex in Pearl Tuesday morning.
Rankin-Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest has identified the slain officer as 37-year-old Michael J. Walter. Walter died from a gunshot wound to the head at 11:56 a.m., according to UMMC.
A second Pearl police officer, Dave McCarley, was shot in the leg and hand during the incident. He is in stable condition. The third officer, Shaun Terwilliger, was injured inside the apartment, but his injuries were not caused by gunfire, according to Guest.
Guest said the officers were serving an arrest and search warrant on Carnell Gaines Jr., 30, who was charged with sexual battery of a minor. Gaines was killed during the shooting.
Officers had reportedly entered the apartment, and Gaines retreated to a bathroom. He refused to show his hands, and as officers tried to taze him he fired his weapon, according to Guest.
Walter is survived by his wife Jeanne and his 11-year-old daughter Bailey, according to the Pearl Police Department.
He was hired by the Pearl Police Department in February of 2009 as a patrol officer. He was promoted in October 2010 to an investigator.
Walter played professional baseball for the Houston Astros from 1993-2000.
Pearl police Lieutenant Butch Townsend said in a statement "Today the Pearl Police Department lost an officer in the line of duty. This is a sad first for our town that was incorporated in 1973."
Townsend said that besides his family Walter had three passions: the San Diego Chargers, professional baseball and law enforcement.
"No words can express our feeling of loss at this time. Mike was a beacon of sunshine. Nothing but kind words for all. Seldom did a smile leave his face and his smiles were never bigger than when he would speak of his wife and daughter," Townsend said.
Tuesday night a prayer vigil was held on the lawn of Pearl City Hall.
Citizens offered prayers in support of Officer Walter and his family.
They also asked for the speedy recoveries of Officers McCarley and Terwilliger.
Mayor Brad Rogers also addressed the crowd.
At the close of the vigil pearl police officers joined the group which encircled them in prayer.
"When I called the mayor this afternoon I said we just want to get some people out to just pray and lift up the officers and their families and to show our support and our appreciation because they do lay their lives out and their lives are on the line every day," said Trish Ratcliffe who organized the prayer vigil with her husband Mark.
"Being an officer is a great deal of responsibility and every day we put on this uniform it is a higher calling to go out there and know that every day can be the last day," said Pearl Police Chief Ben Schuler.
"It is a tragic time in our department. I know it's happened in other departments. Lord knows I pray that it never happens again," said Mayor Rogers.