SPRINGDALE (KFSM) - A 45-year-old man is recovering in a River Valley hospital after an Arkansas State Police trooper shot him three times Monday (June 8) in Crawford County, officials said.
Gil Antonio Ramirez-Lemus of Springdale, who was shot twice in the stomach and once in the leg, had surgery at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith and is expected to survive, said Marc McCune, Crawford County prosecuting attorney.
While recovering in the hospital, Ramirez-Lemus is in the custody of the Arkansas State Police, the prosecutor said.
On Monday at about 6 a.m., the trooper confronted Ramirez-Lemus as he walked south alongside Interstate 49 near Mountainburg. Ramirez-Lemus had a rock in each hand, threatening the trooper and refusing to obey commands, McCune said.
The trooper, whose name has not been released, first shot Ramirez-Lemus with a Taser, with at least one prong embedding in the suspect. Ramirez-Lemus pulled the prong out and walked into interstate traffic, causing vehicles to stop and leading the trooper to believe Ramirez-Lemus might try to take one of the vehicles, McCune said.
Using a .45-caliber handgun, the trooper then shot Ramirez-Lemus, McCune said.
Three motorists, including a National Guardsman and a Fort Smith firefighter, stopped and tried to help the trooper.
The prosecutor said Ramirez-Lemus faces charges of aggravated assault, theft of a vehicle and fleeing. He also is thought to be in the United States illegally and faces deportation, McCune said.
The prosecutor said Ramirez-Lemus, who possibly is a native of El Salvador, has already been deported at least once and perhaps as many as three times.
The incident began late Sunday (June 7) when a vehicle was reported stolen in Springdale from a residence where Ramirez-Lemus rented a room. Lowell police spotted the vehicle and gave chase but lost sight of it near the Wagon Wheel Road exit at I-49, McCune said.
At about midnight, the State Police Troop H headquarters received a call that a vehicle with its lights on was abandoned along the side of the interstate at Mile Marker 34 near Mountainburg. The vehicle, which turned out to be the one stolen earlier from Springdale, was towed from the site.
At about 6 a.m. on Monday (June 8), another call came in that a man was walking along the interstate. A trooper traveling northbound on I-49 cut across the interstate at the turnaround spot at Mile Marker 32, where he initially confronted Ramirez-Lemus, McCune said.
The prosecutor said his office will look at video from the trooper's dashboard camera and examine other evidence, including witness statements, to determine whether the shooting was justified.
The prosecutor said his office also is seeking blood samples and toxicology results from the hospital to determine whether Ramirez-Lemus was under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the incident.