An off-duty police officer was killed by a stray bullet while inside his house in east Arkansas, authorities said.
Officer Oliver Johnson was in his game room playing video games with his family when a bullet struck and killed him Saturday, said Lt. Eric Varner, a spokesman for the police department in Forrest City, Ark., where Johnson worked. The 25-year-old officer, who was with the department for three years, left behind a fiancee and two young daughters, Varner said.
“We’re at a loss for words. We’re deeply saddened by this,” he said.
The shooting occurred Saturday afternoon at an apartment complex in West Memphis, Ark., where Johnson lived, Capt. Joe Baker of the West Memphis Police Department told reporters. The Washington Post was not immediately able to reach Baker on Sunday, but Varner said a fight between several people outside the apartment escalated into a shooting. Johnson was not a target, Baker told reporters.
Neighbors told local media that they had heard as many as 40 gunshots. Photos and videos showed the windows of Johnson’s apartment riddled with bullets.
Portia Weatherspoon, Johnson’s neighbor, told ABC affiliate WATN that she stepped outside after hearing one of Johnson’s nephews yell that his uncle had been shot.
“When I went in the house, I found him shot,” Weatherspoon said. “Me and my husband tried to do CPR.”
It’s unclear whether police have made an arrest. It’s also unclear how many other people were in the apartment, but no one else has been injured.
Johnson’s death was a blow to the small, tightknit agency of 35 officers. Varner said Johnson worked in the Forrest City Police Department’s patrol division and had always been willing to take on more tasks, whether it was helping serve a search warrant or providing security at special events.
Varner said the agency has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help the Johnson family.
Several friends, many of whom have changed their profile pictures to an image of a police badge with a band over it, have posted on Johnson’s Facebook page, on which he described himself as a “father of 2 wonderful girls and a man of God.” A picture on the page shows the uniformed officer standing in front of a patrol car next to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse mascots.
“I just talked to you the other day. Letting you know trouble don’t last always. You will always be my little brother in BLUE,” one friend wrote.
A few hours after Johnson was killed, the Forrest City Police Department announced on Facebook that the department was canceling events “due to unforeseen circumstances.”