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Mississippi detective shot, killed with own gun during interrogation, investigators say

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 9:15 p.m.
This 2008 image provided by the Jackson, Miss. Police shows Detective Eric Smith. Authorities say a murder suspect shot Smith inside the Jackson police headquarters and that both the suspect and detective are dead. A Mississippi murder suspect used a Smith's gun to kill the detective and then himself inside police headquarters on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Jackson Police)
This undated photo provided by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety shows Jeremy R. Powell. Authorities have identified Powell, 23, as the suspect who fatally shot Jackson Police Detective Eric Smith before killing himself in an interview room at the Jackson Police headquarters on Thursday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Mississippi Department of Public Safety)

JACKSON, Miss. — The police detective killed while interrogating a murder suspect at department headquarters in Mississippi's capital city was shot four times before the suspect shot himself in the head, authorities said Friday

Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart told The Associated Press that Jackson Police Detective Eric Smith was shot twice in the chest and twice in the arm with a 9 mm pistol.

Jeremy Powell, 23, wrested Smith's gun away while he was being questioned, shot the detective, then himself, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said.

Jackson authorities said the shooting happened in a third-floor interrogation room while Smith was seeking information on a stabbing death earlier this week.

Powell had one gunshot in his head, the coroner said.

Smith, 40, had been with the police department nearly 20 years and was assigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division. The physically fit Smith was praised for his work leading numerous high-profile murder investigations, officials said.

Ken Winter, executive director of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, said it's not unusual for an officer to be armed during an interview unless it's being conducted in a secure area, like a jail. Jails typically require all visitors to check their weapons, including law enforcement officers.

Winter spent 36 years in law enforcement as a police chief, a detective and as director of the state crime lab.

“For him to be armed, I'd expect that,” Winter said. “I don't think I did an interview when I wasn't armed, unless I was doing it in the jail.”

But it is rare for an officer to be killed inside a police department, Winter said. He said he couldn't recall such an instance in recent years in Mississippi.

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