Thursday, February 10, 2011
Standoff ends in shooting of suspect
By SUE WATSON
A domestic dispute call to 911 Saturday morning ended in the shooting of the suspect after a two and a half hour standoff with deputies, according to Marshall County Sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
The suspect, Michael Todd, 44, of the 1100 block of French Road, was airlifted to the Memphis Med and later transferred to another medical facility after a deputy returned fire to defend the sheriff and many other deputies at the scene where Todd was holed up.
Dickerson said Todd appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and had refused his and deputy LaDaryl Odum’s offers to resolve the standoff peacefully.
Todd is alleged to have returned home under influence of drugs or alcohol around 3:30 a.m. where he held his female companion of about 16 years in the back of the house, abused her about the face and head and held her at gunpoint with a shotgun, the sheriff said.
Interviewing of the victim provided the following details of the incident as it developed at the home.
“She said he threatened to kill her and accused her of seeing other men,” Dickerson said. “She said this had been going on for a while and she was too fearful to report it, fearing her own life.”
Todd had been exhibiting this type of abusive behavior for several weeks, the sheriff said, and had been unable to find work for months. His companion told investigators she had noticed a change in behavior about six months prior to the Saturday morning incident.
The couple’s four children were elsewhere but one of the children called 911 for help after their mother sent text messages from inside the house that she needed help, the sheriff said.
After the children tried to call their mother and father and got no answer, they became worried and went to the house.
“That’s when their dad was trying to make their mother go back in the house and said don’t call the police,” Dickerson said.
The female companion was held hostage for about 45 minutes before she escaped from the front of the house at a moment when Todd had taken his attention off her. She ran to a neighbor’s house. Deputies responding to the distress call tried to get Todd to cooperate but a long standoff ensued.
The sheriff was called to the scene to help because he knew Todd personally and had developed a respectful relationship with the man while he was in the Marshall County jail. Todd had been on good behavior at the jail and had been allowed to work inside the jail as a kind of trustee, Dickerson said.
By this time, more deputies had arrived and set up at the intersection of Berta Road and French Road, a short distance away from the house which is located on the north side of French Road.
Deputy Odum, who is also a minister, arrived and asked the sheriff to come to the scene to help try to get Todd to surrender. While the sheriff and Odum talked to Todd, other deputies surrounded the house.
The sheriff and Odum were standing near the window in the middle of French Road where they talked to Todd.
“We were communicating through a slightly opened window on the west end of the house,” the sheriff said. “We could hear him and knew he was at the window, but could not see him. He demanded to use the cell phone but would not surrender his weapon.”
The sheriff and Odum were unsuccessful in getting Todd to come out of the house and surrender the weapon.
Dickerson said he felt continuing to talk to Todd was a risk to their own safety so he and Odum withdrew from the area near the window.
“I believe he wanted to die but did not want to kill himself,” the sheriff said. “He started talking about a scripture with LaDaryl, the 23rd Psalm. His tone of voice indicated he felt no one cared for him and he was tired of living – this type language. We tried to convince him we cared. I told him he should know we would not gun him down. If he would put the shotgun on the porch, I would let him use my phone. But he would not agree to do that. It was bitter cold and we had been trying to negotiate with him for about 30 minutes.
“The longer we talked, we realized both of us were putting ourselves in danger. He could have shot us from the window at any time. I felt we should get at least out of shotgun range. We had best regroup and discuss the next step. We had gone the extra mile in trying to get him to surrender and in doing that had almost got ourselves killed.
“We were stepping back toward the patrol, trying to get out of range, when Todd fired inside the house which we highly believed, and later confirmed, to be right above the window where we were talking with him.
“We thought he might have tried to commit suicide and our officers wanted to check the house. I thought from past experience that he would try to get us to rush the house. After that, he rushed out the front door with the shotgun and fired several times. One of the waddings was found in the road in our direction where LaDaryl and I had stood negotiating with him.”
Todd tripped when he left the porch and almost fell, but continued in the direction of the intersection where officers were holding up. He still had the weapon in his hand, the sheriff said.
“It was at this point he was wounded by one of our officers and fell to the ground,” Dickerson said. “One of our deputies shot him with a rifle.”
An ambulance was on standby near the scene and Todd was taken to the ambulance and given emergency care until the medical helicopter arrived to transport him to the Memphis Med.
It was at this time while waiting for helicopter transport that Todd called out to the sheriff. The sheriff went to the ambulance.
“He looked over at me and told me that he loved me,” Dickerson said.
“I took it seriously and I was proud to hear him say that. I have no reason to believe he didn’t mean what he said.”
The victim was debriefed after receiving medical attention at the hospital in Collierville, Tenn. She and the children have gone to an undisclosed location.
Dickerson said processing of the scene inside the house by detective Tammy Thompson and a team of investigators turned up evidence that suggests Todd may have been preparing to die.
The Bible was open along with several pictures of Todd’s family on the couch. There was also fresh writing on the wall – abusive words and messages written to his companion, Dickerson said. Several football jerseys were on the floor with newspaper clippings of obituary columns. Two articles and pictures of the family were laid on top of the jerseys along with the obituaries.
Dickerson said the deputy who shot Todd is on leave while the Mississippi Highway Patrol investigates the incident. MHP normally investigates incidents where officers and suspects are involved in shootings of this nature.
Once the investigation is complete by MHP, the facts surrounding the case will be furnished to the district attorney’s office as well as federal authorities upon request.
Todd will face at least two charges of aggravated assault, Dickerson said, and possibly a third charge which will be presented to authorities with the U.S. Attorney’s office because he was a convicted felon and possessed and discharged a firearm.
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