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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Fort Smith, Arkansas 09/15/2010

Serving arrest warrants on two rape-murder suspects, Fort Smith officers were attacked with knives and responded with deadly force.

November 07, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

Up to now, Carter's pursuit of his own investigation had been fraught with complications-a drug- and alcohol-dependent victim who was less than forthcoming and virtually inarticulate, an alleged crime scene that had been cleaned up, and nothing really to go on but DNA testing on a pair of shorts that would not be finished for three months. But the similarities between the cases were sufficiently strong for investigators to take their suspicions to a judge, who on September 15 issued arrest warrants for the two brothers.

Carter reflected on one of the less profane offers Elvis Thacker had made during one of his calls: Come and get me.

The detective decided to take the man up on his offer.

Knock and Notice

Armed with arrest warrants, the detectives spent the rest of the day tracking down the Thackers through street contacts. Around 9:30 that night, their efforts paid off. They responded to an apartment in the 5000 block of South 32nd Street in Fort Smith.

An officer donned the uniform of a local utility company and approached the location to get a visual. Confirming the presence of the two men inside, the officer backed off and rejoined other

The investigators approached the apartment and rapped at the door. Their knock and notice was met by the visage of a screaming Elvis Thacker pounding on the living room window, a kitchen knife in hand and obscenities on his tongue. Seeing his nemesis, Det. Carter, threw Elvis further into a rage. It looked like he would not go down without a fight.

Kicking It In

The officers witnessing Elvis' rage also noticed the presence of other people in the room, the identities and sympathies of whom were unknown, but their faces shared a common expression: fear. Given the heinous nature of the crimes the Thackers were suspected of, and the unknown status of the bystanders in the room, the spontaneous consensus among the officers was predictable-there would be no backing off to await SWAT. They would make entry themselves.

The door of the apartment gave way under the boot of one officer, and Det. James Melson was the first man to enter the dimly lit room. Immediately upon entering the cramped apartment, Melson came face-to-face with Elvis Thacker. Melson took the slighter Thacker straight to the ground as Carter peeled off left of the threshold.

As the second man through the door, Carter quickly scanned the room to identify any potential threats. The scene was chaotic, with little illumination, several officers, two suspects, and innocent bystanders occupying the small room. As Melson grappled with Thacker on the ground, Carter heard other officers issuing commands, "On the ground!"

Carter's act of vigilance was timely, for just then Jonathan Thacker emerged from a room on the opposite side of the living room. Seeing his brother's struggle on the floor, Jonathan raised a knife above Det. Melson.

Carter's shout of "Drop it!" and the bore of his Glock 22 pointing center mass was met with compliance by Jonathan.

The Other Brother

Even with scant illumination in the room, Carter was able to recognize that Jonathan's was the only compliance the Thackers were offering. For while Elvis was slighter in stature than his brother, he possessed a far more determined mindset. The same visceral tenacity that routinely subjugated his brother's will to his own was now in full display, complemented by a wiry frame that worked for him in close quarters and allowed him to squirm and wiggle his right arm and shoulder out from beneath Melson. The knife still clenched in his hand, Elvis stabbed and slashed away at the detective atop him.

Comments (1)

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Morning Eagle @ 11/10/2011 12:12 AM

Given the situation as described: Small room with several other occupants of unknown determination or intent but possibly not involved, trying to maneuver a shotgun (presuming standard length) may have been too awkward and/or time consuming. Plus there would be more of chance of having it grabbed at by someone in the room. Although at such short range buckshot doesn't really spread out much there is still the increased possibility of unwanted collateral damage when compared to the more precise bullet placement that may be attained with a pistol or revolver.

The officers did a great job of handling an extremely unpredictable situation that apparently went over the top in a matter of a minute or two from beginning to end. It is too bad Elvis survived. Now The People are paying for his hospital stay, housing and trial and what will probably be post-trial housing, food, clothing, medical care, etc., etc. A total waste of taxpayer dollars in my humble opinion.

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