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Newport police chief on officer killed in line of duty: ‘We’re hurting’

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NEWPORT, Ark. -- Detectives say an 18-year-old is in custody in connection to the shooting death of a Mid-South police officer.

Lt. Patrick Weatherford had been with the Newport Arkansas Police Department for 15 years. He was killed in the line of duty Monday night.

“Obviously, our hearts are broken today," said Newport Mayor David Stewart.

Flowers of remembrance now stand outside the police department in the small town of Newport.

“We’re all one family," said Col. Bill Bryant with Arkansas State Police.

Authorities said Lt. Weatherford was responding to a call of a car break-in around 6 p.m. Monday and spotted the suspect upon getting there.

They said the suspect ran, and Weatherford and other officers chased after the person. Detectives said the suspect then turned around and fired at least one round at the officers, hitting Weatherford.

He later died at the hospital.

“All he wanted to do was come to work and make things better for our community," said Newport Police Chief Michael Scudder.

Authorities searched for the shooter on the ground and by air, but they said the 18-year-old suspect later turned themselves in to the police department around 7:30 p.m. Monday.

On Tuesday, dive crews could be seen searching a lake near where the shooting took place.

Authorities aren’t yet giving specifics on the suspect or circumstances surrounding the gun, but they brought in outside law enforcement agencies to assist them during this tragic time.

“We’re hurting," said the chief.

Authorities said they aren’t releasing more suspect information at this point and are working on specific charges, but they said they do anticipate the person to have their first court appearance Wednesday morning.