The mother of a man who shot four Mississippi law enforcement officers and was killed in a shootout says authorities refused to let her talk to her son during nearly six hours of negotiations.
Katherine Hudson said she thinks family members could have convinced Charles Lee Lambert, 45, to end the standoff without bloodshed.
Lambert had holed up in a house near Iuka in northern Mississippi. Authorities stormed the house early Saturday and Lambert began shooting. James Lee Tartt, 44, an agent in the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, was killed and three other officers were wounded in the shootout that followed.
A preliminary autopsy report indicates that Tartt was hit in the left shoulder by a single bullet from an assault rifle, Tishomingo County Coroner Mack Wilemon said Sunday night.
Lambert also was killed; his autopsy had not yet been performed.
"“They wouldn’t let nobody talk to him," Hudson told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
“I feel like they didn’t know what they was doing. It was all their fault, because we (family members) could have talked to him and everything would have been all right. That’s what I tried to tell them. I tried to tell them that.”
... Lambert’s biological mother, Diane Richardson of Nashville, also said the family should have been allowed to speak with Lambert.
“If any of the family would have been able to go in and talk to him, he would have been fine, and the officer would have been fine,” Richardson said.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain told the newspaper the officers are trained, and their first goal is keeping people alive. The family is entitled to their opinion on how the incident was handled, he said, and declined further comment.
He did not respond Sunday to The Associated Press's emailed and phoned queries about Hudson's comments and the names, conditions and other information about the three wounded officers.
In a statement late Sunday, Tishomingo County Sheriff John Daugherty said that the names of the wounded officers could have ended up on the agency's memorial monument but "Fortunately, all three have good prognoses and should recover." He did not name the wounded officers.
Jasper County Sheriff Randy Johnson identified the most seriously wounded officer, who was hospitalized in Corinth, as Trea (TRAY) Staples.
Strain said Saturday that officers had exhausted negotiations when they stormed the house.
He described Tartt as a decorated officer who had been in law enforcement for 22 years. He joined the narcotics bureau in 2000 and in 2011 had been honored as agent of the year, Strain said.
Strain said Tartt is the fifth Bureau of Narcotics agent killed in the agency's 45-year history. The last agent killed was in 1998.
Tartt's family described him as a dedicated officer who had spent most of his career as a narcotics officer.
His uncle, Don Tartt, told the newspaper Lee Tartt and had married about a year ago, making him stepfather to his wife's two children. The family had just moved into a house that had taken his nephew two years to build, Don Tartt said.
Don Tartt's wife, Julia Criss Tart, said, "He was just a really good guy, and he wanted to make the world a better place."