BYRAM, MS (WLBT) - Still especially close to the hearts of both the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the whole Department of Public Safety family is the 2016 death of Agent Lee Tartt, killed in a standoff that also injured three other SWAT team members.
Tartt, 44, of Grenada, was a veteran agent. On Feb. 20, 2016, he led a SWAT team of MBN agents and highway patrol troopers into the home of Charles Lee Lambert, 45, in Tishomingo County. At that point after 6 hours of negotiation, Lambert was still holding his wife and 10-year-old daughter hostage.
Lambert was killed when the SWAT team entered, but not before opening fire with a high-powered rifle. Tartt was fatally injured, and troopers DeAndre Dixon, Trea Staples and Bubba Holifield were also shot. But his legacy is one that will live on at MBN.
“They rescued and saved a 10 year old little girl and she gets to live hopefully a full and great life," Director John Dowdy said. "What I saw in Lee’s death is a renewed vigor to try to emulate the things the agents saw in Lee, in his dedication and service. We talk about it often.”
Seven agents have been killed in the 48-year history of MBN. They are Agent Harold Lane Caldwell, 1979; Agent Robert Henry McLeod, 1989; Agent Spencer Glenn Beckley, 1989; Agent Marc Lee Whatley, 1998; Special Agent Kim Sterling, 2003; Sgt. First Class Christopher Robinson; and Tartt. Each of them illustrate in all too real terms the risks everyone in law enforcement takes when they walk out the door, Dowdy said.
“It’s definitely a calling, and this week when we remember law enforcement and those who have given their lives, it’s incumbent upon us to remember. A simple thank you is worth a lot,” Dowdy said.
The event was attended by agents and their families, as well as DPS Commissioner Marshall Fisher, House Speaker Phillip Gunn, and other dignitaries. MBN has lost seven agents in the line of duty since its inception in 1971.