MANDEVILLE, La. – A Louisiana police captain was killed Friday and another officer was wounded following a vehicle chase in a New Orleans suburb, authorities said.
Authorities identified Mandeville Police Capt. Vincent “Vinny” Liberto Jr. as the person who died from his injuries. Liberto had been the department since 1994. Prior to this he served in the Marine Corps for 10 years.
“He leaves a wife who is grieving, children who are grieving,” Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker said about Liberto. “We have an agency that hasn’t lost an officer in over 50 years that is grieving. The whole law enforcement community is grieving. We’re a tight-knit community. This is a bad day for Mandeville Police Department.”
Sticker said at a news conference that the wounded officer, who’s being treated at Lakeview Regional Medical Center, is expected to survive.
Witnesses said the chase began shortly before 2 p.m. after a traffic stop near State Routes 22 and 190. As the driver refused to yield, a vehicle pursuit ensued along Hwy. 190. During the course of the pursuit, the suspect’s vehicle crashed into the ditch along the U.S. 190 southbound off ramp to Hwy. 22, WVUE-TV reported.
A suspect got out of the vehicle and reportedly shot at Liberto, reported Fox News. Another officer arrived and was reportedly shot in the head. It was unclear whether the officers returned fire.
The last time a Mandeville police officer died in the line of duty was in 1958, the station reported.
“The only thing we can do right now is ask for the prayers of the community for the officer that is injured and for the person that is deceased,” Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere said.
Two people are in custody, including the suspected shooter and a weapon has been recovered. One person was arrested at the scene. Another person was caught in the Beau Chene area.
The primary suspect, identified as 21-year-old Mark Spicer of Covington, has been charged with one count each of First Degree Murder of a Police Officer, Attempted First Degree Murder of a Police Officer, Aggravated Flight from an Officer, and Possession of Stolen Property.
The second suspect has not been identified.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased officer and the injured officer,” St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said.
Sticker said Louisiana State Police are in charge of the investigation and would field questions regarding what led to the shooting.
Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted about the deadly attack.
Today we mourn the loss of a dedicated public servant who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting the people of Mandeville and the people of Louisiana. #lagov #lalege https://t.co/QFaQcRHNkU
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) September 20, 2019
“Our hearts go out to the officer’s family and friends, the people of Mandeville and the entire law enforcement community. Please join @FirstLadyOfLA and me in praying for our state today. #lagov #lalege,” he posted.
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister said, “When something happens like this, we are all heartbroken,” she said. “But we will come together to support the officers who put their lives on the lines to protect us.”