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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Authorities say a Mississippi police officer was killed Friday in the line of duty while trying to stop a car that was fleeing from law enforcement.
Grenada Mayor Billy Collins said Capt. John Wayne Haddock, who is in his 50s, was hit by the car when he was putting out spike strips to pop the tires on the fleeing vehicle. Haddock died at the scene on Mississippi Highway 8 near the intersection of Interstate 55.
"It's a terrible situation," Collins told The Associated Press by phone from the scene. "He was a captain, the next thing to assistant chief. John had a young family. He was really proficient when it came to weapons. He trained a lot of our young officers. He was just one of those with all the experience that is hard to replace."
The vehicle wrecked after hitting the spike strip, the mayor said. Two people in that car were airlifted to hospitals, one in critical condition.
Grenada police didn't immediately respond to messages left at the department because they were on the scene.
Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Jon Kalahar said preliminary information suggests the people in the car were burglary suspects.
Kalahar said the officer was ahead of the chase and had pulled his patrol car into the roadway and gotten out when he was struck.
"We're not sure if he was putting down stop sticks when he was hit, but he was struck by the suspects' vehicle and he was killed at the scene," Kalahar said.
Collins said estimates are that the car was traveling more than 100 mph. He said Haddock gave his life to protect others. The car was headed into Grenada, where it would have approached a busy intersection and traffic light at a deadly speed.
"He gave his life to stop this vehicle. He gave his life in the line of duty to save others," Collins said.
State Rep. Sidney Bondurant, R-Grenada, is a former reserve deputy sheriff and keeps a police scanner in his medical office. He listened to the scanner traffic Friday morning as deputies communicated about pursuing a possibly stolen vehicle that was speeding eastward into Grenada.
Bondurant said deputies discussed the possibility that the vehicle might turn onto Interstate 55. Instead, the vehicle headed into the city limits of Grenada, and deputies called for backup from the city police department.
Bondurant said he heard the chief deputy sheriff, Johnny Grantham, on the scanner.
"I got a grip in my stomach when I heard Johnny Grantham's voice, when I heard him say, 'Have the sheriff call me ASAP,'" Bondurant told AP. "I've known these guys 25 years. You know the tone of voice. You know something bad has happened."
Grenada is a town of about 13,000 about halfway between Jackson, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn.