A Mississippi police chief killed himself moments after he was suspended without pay, leaving fellow officers stunned and wondering why.
Police Chief Mike DeNardo fatally shot himself in the chest after walking out of the Bay St. Louis police station around 3 p.m. Thursday. He was rushed to an area hospital but could not be saved.
Shocked colleagues said the shooting appeared intentional.
“It’s just a bad day — a bad day for law enforcement,” Hancock County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Don Bass said.
DeNardo was under investigation by the sheriff’s department for an ongoing personnel issue and had just been stripped off some of his police equipment when he unexpectedly took his own life.
But the 12-year department veteran would most likely have been cleared of any wrongdoing, the mayor of the touristy Mississippi Gulf Coast town said.
“He was just a tremendous public servant, and he’s going to be greatly missed,” Mayor Les Fillingame said, refusing to go into specifics about DeNardo’s suspension.
The Bay St. Louis Council unanimously voted to turn control of the police department over to the Hancock Sheriff’s Department Thursday evening.
Fillingame said the sheriff’s office stepped in to give DeNardo’s deputies time to process the unexpected suicide of their superior.
Refusing to go into specifics, Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker toldWLOX-TV some credible evidence about DeNardo had surfaced, prompting an investigation.
“At this point, it would be inappropriate to talk about it,” Parker said. “Our condolences go out to his family for the loss.”