Six-Hour Standoff Ends With Miss. Officer Dead

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -
Officers investigate the scene of a shooting near Iuka, Miss., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Multiple law enforcement officers were injured after an hourslong standoff in rural north Mississippi ended in fatal gunfire, authorities said. (AP Photo/Michael H. Miller)
Officers investigate the scene of a shooting near Iuka, Miss., Feb. 20. (AP Photo/Michael H. Miller)

One law enforcement officer was killed and three were wounded early Saturday after a six-hour-long standoff at a rural Mississippi house ended when authorities stormed the house and the gunman inside opened fire, authorities said.

Also killed was the man suspected of firing on the officers.

The standoff started Friday afternoon when authorities responded to a domestic dispute call at a home in rural northeastern Mississippi, authorities said.

But the man, holed up in his home with his wife and 10-year-old daughter, refused to come out, sparking a six-hour standoff with officers outside, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain.

Strain said the man wasn’t shooting at officers before they entered the house, but they had tried to talk with him for six hours and had fundamentally exhausted negotiations.

The woman and child were rescued, said Strain. But the man was killed after he opened fire as tactical teams entered the home.

Multiple police agencies remained on the scene Saturday afternoon at the one-story house in sparsely populated woods in Tishomingo County.

Killed were James Lee Tartt, 44, who was an illegal substances agent, and suspected gunman Charles Lee Lambert, who was 45. The high-powered rifle Lambert used was also recovered from inside the house.

Three state troopers who entered the home were wounded. The most seriously wounded officer was out of surgery Saturday and in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Corinth, said Strain.

The other two officers were in fair condition at hospitals in Memphis and Tupelo, Strain said.

Tartt’s family described him as a dedicated officer who had spent most of his career battling illegal substances.

“He was just a really good guy, and he wanted to make the world a better place. Ever since I’ve known him he has always been the type who would do anything to make the world a better place,” said Julia Criss Tartt, the aunt of the slain officer.

Her husband, Don Tartt, who is the slain officer’s uncle, said Lee Tartt and his wife had just moved into a new house that the officer had been building for the last two years. They had married about a year ago, said Don Tartt.

Last fall Lee Tartt ran for sheriff in Grenada county but lost to an incumbent, said his aunt.

The slain officer was raised in Mississippi and was also part of an area SWAT team that would respond to situations like the Friday night standoff.

Tartt was a decorated officer who had been in law enforcement for 22 years. He joined the illegal substances bureau in 2000 and in 2011 had been honored as agent of the year, Strain said.

Strain said Tartt is the fifth Miss. Bureau of Narcotics agent killed in the agency’s 45-year history. The last agent killed was in 1998.