Many across Arkansas offered their condolences to the family of Stone County Sheriff Deputy Mike Stephen, who was killed in the line of duty on Thursday morning.
Officials including Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Gov. Asa Hutchinson – who ordered flags fly at half-staff until the day of internment – as well as multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Conway Police Department mourned the fallen officer.
“The members of the Conway Police Department offer our heartfelt sympathies to the members of the Stone County Sheriff’s Office and the family of Deputy Mike Stephen who was killed in the line of duty this morning while serving the citizens of Stone County,” officials posted to the department’s Facebook page on Friday.
Stephen’s body was released from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory Friday morning following an autopsy. Forensic evidence, recovered at the scene, was also been submitted to the crime lab for analysis.
A video posted on the CPD Facebook page shows members of the CPD, the Conway Fire Department, the Stone County Sheriff’s Department and others lining the shoulder of Interstate 40, hands raised in salute as Stephen’s body was escorted back to Stone County on Friday.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to his family, co-workers and friends,” officials wrote. “Thank you for your service Sgt. Mike Stephen. Rest In Peace.”
According to the Arkansas State Police, 39-year-old Samuel Fullerton from Leslie, Arkansas, has been identified as the suspect in the 20-year law enforcement veteran’s death.
A 32-year-old woman who shared a home with Fullerton, was also wounded in the Thursday shooting.
The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is continuing to investigate the incident and will present the case file to the Stone County Prosecuting Attorney for consideration with respect to the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer.
“Today marks the end of Deputy Stephen’s watch and he will always be remembered for his steadfast commitment to safeguard his neighbors from harm,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement released Thursday. “As the chief law enforcement officer of the state, I send my deepest condolences and prayers to Deputy Stephen’s family, friends and his brothers and sisters in blue throughout the state. The loss of our law enforcement in the line of duty is devastating for all Arkansans.”
Hutchinson said: “It was heartbreaking to hear that Stone County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Stephen was killed in the line of duty [Thursday]. Deputy Stephen’s death is a somber reminder that our law-enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect ours. I am grateful for the men and women who willingly put their safety on the line every time they put on the uniform. My heart goes out to his wife and son, and to his fellow officers and friends in their grief at the tragic loss of Mike Stephen.”
Griffin said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Stephens during this tragic and difficult time. My heart also goes out to the Stone County Sheriff’s Department as they grieve the loss of one of their own. [Thursday’s] news is a mournful reminder to Arkansans of the risks our law enforcement officers face each and every day as they strive to make our communities safer.”