An Arkansas town was left grief-stricken and outraged over the weekend after a local police officer was killed in the line of duty.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, authorities said Officer Kevin Apple of the Pea Ridge Police Department died Saturday afternoon “when a vehicle he had approached to speak with the driver ran him over and dragged him.”
The vehicle had matched a description given by a neighboring department, who said an “older model” Jeep had fled from officers there, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
Twenty-two-year-old Shawna Rhae Cash and 18-year-old Elijah Anadoloza were named as suspects in the case. They are currently being held in the Benton County jail and reportedly face charges of capital murder and attempted capital murder.
Officer “honored his community”
The department’s public information officer, Lt. Michael Lisenbee, said the department was shocked by the tragic news of Apple’s death. “Our department is in shock right now. We’re a home town. Everyone in our Police Department are family,” Lisenbee said, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
The sad news also brought an order from Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) to fly all flags in the state at half-mast. “My prayers are with Officer Apple’s family and the entire Pea Ridge community during this time,” the governor said in a statement.
Apple had served as a police officer for 23 years, including three with Pea Ridge, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
Benton County prosecuting attorney Nathan Smith told reporters that the officer “honored his community by sacrificing his own life in their service.”
Upswing in attacks on police
Apple’s death comes amid an upswing in violent attacks on police in recent months, with Fox News reporting in early June that 128 officers had been shot so far this year.
Patrick Yoes serves as president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, and he said the violence can be partly attributed to a worsening political climate.
“I think that the present climate that we see throughout the country right now and the dehumanization of law enforcement is certainly, I think, having some impact on the aggression towards law enforcement,” he told Fox. “There’s definitely a lack of respect.”
Last Tuesday, Fox reported that three people in Illinois were arrested for allegedly beating and strangling an officer who had pulled them over for a traffic stop.