No. 4: Holcomb shooting ruled justified by prosecutor in one of top news items of year


Editor’s note: The shooting death of constable Tommy Holcomb Sr. is the No. 4 story on The Commercial’s Top 10 list for 2012.

Following a more than one month investigation by police, Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter ruled that no felony charges would be filed in the Jan. 11 shooting death of constable Tommy Holcomb Sr., the younger brother of Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb.

“I have concluded that Edward Blundell was justified in his actions under Arkansas law in that he was reasonable in believing that deadly force was about to be used against him,” Hunter said in a news release March 1. “Therefore no charges will be filed against Mr. Blundell for causing Mr. Holcomb’s death.”

Hunter said Blundell, 29, would be charged with carrying a weapon, a misdemeanor, because he did not have a license to carry the handgun he used. Carrying a weapon is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Holcomb was an elected constable of Niven Township and Hunter said Holcomb had a right to carry a handgun.

“My findings conclude that Mr. Holcomb was not committing any crimes at the time of his death and his error was that he failed to communicate that he was a law enforcement officer,” Hunter said in the news release. “He was in plain clothes and his badge was in his back pocket.”

Holcomb was shot after he exchanged words with Blundell on the parking lot of the Speedway Convenience Store on Camden Road after a car driven by Blundell’s wife Carrie and a vehicle driven by Holcomb almost collided.

Store video showed that a car driven by Carrie Blundell started to leave the store parking lot, driving around a set of gas pumps before Holcomb’s vehicle pulled into the parking lot from U.S. 79, with the two vehicles almost hitting each other.

The video showed Blundell immediately getting out of the passenger side of the car and apparently shouting at Holcomb, who also got out of his vehicle and walked to the rear of it and the two apparently exchanging words. That sequence was repeated a second time after Blundell had gotten back into the vehicle, and the video showed Holcomb walking back to his vehicle, then going to the front passenger door of Blundell’s car, stooping to put his face closer to Blundell’s vehicle.

The video showed Holcomb’s left hand going toward the car, then seconds later his right hand going up and apparently firing a shot before falling to the pavement.

Carrie Blundell drove her husband to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where he was treated for a gunshot wound that did not penetrate his chest, then released.

A police report said the passenger side window of Blundell’s car had a hole in it, as did the rear passenger window, and there was a bullet hole in the passenger front door frame.

The Blundell’s 1-year-old child was in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the shooting.

According to the video, the entire incident took less than 60 seconds.