A Clarksdale, Mississippi, police officer critically injured in a shooting Saturday has suffered brain damage and lost an eye, Canada Journal is reporting. Two suspects are in custody.
Clarksdale Officer Derrick Couch was investigating a robbery at a convenience store — right across the street from the Clarksville police station — at about 8:57 p.m. Saturday night when he was shot, according to WMC (Memphis). Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said that two men wearing masks, one armed with a pistol, fled the Corner Grocery through the front door, while two employees fled out the back door. Witnessing the suspicious scene, Couch turned his car around and went to investigate. One of the suspects then shot him, hitting him in the eye.
The two suspects, one of whom has an obvious limp, were captured on security camera fleeing the store. You can watch the video below.
The suspects then fled the area. Couch was found, critically injured, when other officers arrived at the scene.
Employee Margaret Terney, whose brother-in-law owns the convenience store where the robbery happened, said that one of the robbers put a gun to her head during the robbery.
“Two men, two black men came in with masks on with guns and threatened our lives. I’m just really nervous and terrified. I can’t hardly breathe right now. My husband and son, I’m kind of worried about them. Even with all the policeman there, I’m just really scared.”
The Clarksdale officer was taken to Regional One Medical Center in nearby Memphis, where he remains in critical condition, as of this writing.
Clarksdale Mayor Luckett said that Couch has had two surgeries, including having his eye removed. He also said that the officer needs a “miracle” to survive.
“We can’t get the bullet out of his head–not a good thing. He’s on a ventilator I’m told, too. It doesn’t look good to me. That’s why I used that word earlier, a miracle. That’s what we need.”
Couch’s father, Alonzo Hardiman, describes his son as a father of five, who also serves as a minister in nearby Tunica. He says his son even calls his aunt every day to read scriptures with her.
“He’s doing as good as can be expected. I mean, it’s a day to day right now. It’s touch and go. We are praying for him and God knows best.”
Clarksdale, Mississippi, is a city of about 18,000 people in the northwestern corner of the state, about 71 miles from Memphis. The town was once the heart of the Cotton Belt, and the home of a number of famed Delta Blues musicians.
Clarksdale, like so many other rural communities in the South, has fallen on hard times. Forty-one percent of the town’s residents live in poverty, according to City-Data, and crime is twice the national average.
Robbery victim Margaret Terney describes Clarksdale as “a nice town. We just have a few problems right now.”
On Sunday, the father of one of the suspects, identified as the 19-year-old shooter, turned his son in. The second suspect was taken into custody a few hours later.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 10 police officers have been killed in the line of duty so far this year: one in an aircraft accident, one in a traffic accident, and eight from gunfire.
As of this writing, Clarksdale police have not revealed the names of the suspects involved in Officer Couch’s shooting.
[Image via Clarksdale Police Department/Canada Journal]