Pine Bluff police used negotiation, tear gas and a distraction device on Saturday afternoon before shooting and killing a 107-year-old man who continued to shoot at them, according to officials.
According to Police Lt. David Price, the incident began at approximately 4:25 p.m. when police were called to a reported disturbance at the house. When officers arrived, Price said, they were told that Monroe Isadore had pointed a gun at two people inside the residence. Those two people were not identified by police.
“The officers had the two victims leave the residence for their safety and approached the door to the bedroom where Isadore was supposed to be,” Price said in the police statement. “When officers announced themselves, Isadore fired through the door at them. No officer was hit or injured by the gunfire.”
Price said the officers backed out to a safer area, and supervisors and additional help were called out. According to Price, supervisors began trying to negotiate with Isadore as soon as they arrived.
“SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) was also called out,” Price said. “Negotiations continued for some time and when SWAT arrived, negotiations still continued.”
Price said the SWAT officers were able to get a camera into the room where Isadore was located and confirmed that he was armed with a handgun.
“SWAT inserted gas into the room after it was evident negotiations were unsuccessful, in hopes Isadore would surrender peacefully,” Price said. “When the gas was inserted into the room, Isadore fired rounds at the SWAT officers that inserted the gas from outside a bedroom window.
“Shortly afterwards, a SWAT entry team, inside the residence, breached the door to the bedroom and threw a distraction device into the bedroom,” Price said. “Isadore then began to fire on the entry team and the entry team engaged Isadore, killing him.” The distraction device has been described as a flash-bang grenade, which creates a loud explosion that is intended to distract someone’s attention but not harm them otherwise.
Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley identified the man, who was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m. Saturday by Deputy Coroner Eric Belcher. The cause of death was listed as multiple gunshot wounds, and Kelley said the body would be sent to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy.
Despite apparent efforts by police to subdue the elderly man, two people who live in the neighborhood where the incident occurred and were home Saturday questioned the police action.
“They didn’t have to kill him,” said Chelisa Canada, who lives across the street from 1411 West 16th Ave., where the incident occurred. “They could have done something else.”
Canada said police could have waited until Isadore ran out of bullets and then went in to get him.
“I think they went in there with the intention of killing him,” she said. “He couldn’t have had that many bullets in his gun.”
Asked how police would have known that Isadore was out of ammunition, Canada said “they were the police; they should have known how many bullets he had.”
Another neighbor, Gregory Wilson, who also lives across the street, said “they never should have done that.”
“They threw those gas bombs and then all I heard was pow, pow, pow, pow, pow,” Wilson said. “There were SWAT police outside the house, inside the house, all over the place.”
Wilson said he saw approximately 25 police cars and unmarked cars, and that the standoff between Isadore and police “lasted four or five hours from start to finish.”
Like Canada, Wilson wondered what kind of weapon Isadore had, offering the theory that it might have been “a rusty .38 (caliber).”
Police have not said what type of handgun Isadore had.
Both Wilson and Canada said they didn’t know Isadore, but knew the woman who lived in the house, and her grandchildren.
Canada said she knew that Isadore had been staying at the house for “a few days,” while Wilson said he “wasn’t aware he was over there.”
He also said the incident “disturbed the whole neighborhood.”
“They were having services at the church (Old St. James Missionary Baptist Church, located a block away), and they must have stopped the services because they all came out and came to the corner,” Wilson said.
The officers involved in the incident have not been identified pending both a criminal investigation and an internal investigation to determine if they followed department policy.
According to that policy, they will be placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of both investigations.
The shooting death was the first in Pine Bluff since May 27, when Carol Baker was killed on the parking lot of the Lakeview Apartments at 509 W. Barraque St., and was the 10th of the year in Pine Bluff.
Police have made arrests in eight of those deaths.