HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (WMC) - An Arkansas police officer who died Thursday in the line of duty is being called a “true leader” who loved his community.
Helena-West Helena Officer Travis Wallace, 41, died after a gun battle with a wanted suspect who was later captured in Mississippi by U.S. Marshals.
Police Chief James Smith said Wallace was a leader in the department he’d been with for five years and called him a “brother who admired this community.”
“My condolences go out to the Wallace family and all who were involved in efforts to apprehend both suspects,” said Smith. “We must understand that no one has won, although we know our community shall stand strong.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson offered his condolences to Wallace’s family and fellow officers Friday afternoon at a briefing from the state capitol. The governor ordered flags flown at half-staff in the fallen officer’s memory.
Smith says Wallace leaves behind his mother, two children and a host of sisters and brothers. Wallace’s family says he had sole custody of his 10-year-old son.
Helena-West Helena Mayor Kevin Smith released a statement Friday, saying Wallace’s loss is one that echos through the small community.
“Officer Travis Wallace is one of our own, and one of our best. He died courageously in the commission of his job, protecting and serving our community,” said Mayor Smith. “This cuts deep for all of us. My heart breaks for the family of Officer Wallace. This tragic loss is also a loss for his colleagues, for our family at City Hall, and for our entire community. My wife, Sissy, and I knew Travis. She saw him earlier this week at the school where she teaches, as he did his job looking out for school children.”
The mayor commended the Helena-West Helena police department and all law enforcement agencies involved in the search for the suspects connected to Wallace’s death.
“I am proud of Chief Smith, and all law enforcement who successfully ended an all-night manhunt and pursuit in two states, to apprehend the suspect wanted for this heinous act. I pray that all of God’s wrath and judgment crushes down swiftly on the person who did this, and that justice is served," said Mayor Smith. "I pray also that our community sees this for the day of reckoning it is, and that we begin to confront as a community the tragic consequences of gun violence in our streets and neighborhoods. We are -- all of us -- responsible at some level for our community. Our leaders and citizens alike must do what Officer Wallace did, and confront with courage the evil that lurks among us, and threatens our neighbors and ourselves.”
The mayor was cutting short an out-of-town trip to meet with Wallace’s family.