By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Troy Warren #local-all
Infant son caught in crossfire as pursuing deputies shot Louisiana man to death.
A Louisiana man suspected in a double-murder was shot and killed and his 3-month-old baby has died from gunshot wounds after police from several agencies opened fire during a car chase that began Monday in Baton Rouge and ended in Biloxi, Mississippi, according to reports.
La’Mello Parker, who was born January 23, died overnight Tuesday at a Mobile hospital, Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer told Biloxi news station WLOX.
The infant boy was shot while in the car with his father, Eric Derell Smith, who went on the run Monday following the slayings of two people at his ex-girlfriend’s house in rural East Baton Rouge. Smith died after being shot multiple times by authorities along Interstate 10 just west of the Woolmarket exit in Harrison County, reports said.
“Despite the efforts of medical staff, the child passed away as a result of the injuries sustained,” said Maj. Chris DeBack in a release from Biloxi Police Department. “As stated, the investigation is ongoing at this time. Once a thorough investigation is completed the details will be released to the District Attorney’s Office for review.”
The police pursuit began around 11:30 a.m. when deputies with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office arrived at a home on Richmond Street in Baker, Louisiana, where someone had earlier called 911.
Inside, they found Christin Parker, 32, and her nephew, Brandon Parker, 26, shot to death, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.
Smith, 30, was immediately determined a suspect but had already fled the scene in a blue Nissan Versa with his 4-month-old son in tow, reports said. Louisiana authorities immediately informed the public about the killings and the missing child.
Several hours later Smith’s car was spotted heading east on I-10 near Gulfport, Mississippi.
By this time the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Gulfport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office had joined the pursuit, and shut down eastbound lanes of I-10 while making several attempts to stop Smith’s car, which now had two flat tires.
After his car entered Biloxi, Smith tried to cross the 1-10 median to go westbound, but he got stuck in the grass, the Sun Herald reported.
What happened next remains unclear.
The Sun Herald reported that police opened fire after Smith got out of the car but did not say whether Smith had a gun in his hands at the time.
But Biloxi Police Chief John Miller told The Advocate that Smith and officers were involved in a shootout after Smith’s car came to rest in the median, however he could not say whether officers killed Smith or if the suspect killed himself.
Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer later confirmed that Smith did not die from a self-inflicted wound and that he had been sitting in the driver’s seat when he was struck by gunfire multiple times, killing him.
The infant was also shot and rushed by U.S. Marshals to Merit Health in Biloxi in stable condition, then airlifted to USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, where he died Tuesday morning, reports said.
Police officials have not yet revealed how many shots were fired by deputies or what prompted them to shoot.
Biloxi police is reportedly handling the investigation.