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Baby used as human shield dies along with murder suspect in post-chase police shootout

Police tape. (Jacob Hamilton | file/TNS)

La’Mello Parker, the 3-month-old baby who died the day after a car chase in which his father was shot dead by police following a double-murder in Louisiana, was killed by a single gunshot, according to the results of an autopsy.

The infant boy, who was born Jan. 23, died early Tuesday morning at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, according to Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer.

La’Mello was abducted by his father, Eric Derell Smith, who went on the run Monday following the slayings of his ex-girlfriend and her nephew at a home in rural East Baton Rouge. Smith was killed after being shot multiple times by authorities along Interstate 10 in Biloxi, Mississippi, reports said.

Tragically, the child was caught in the crossfire.

Switzer said investigators will compare the bullet that killed La’Mello to the weapons that were fired at the scene to try to determine the source of the fatal shot.

Switzer did not reveal which part of the baby’s body was hit by the bullet. He said a pathologist will determine whether the fatal shot came from close range or a distance.

The police pursuit began about 11:30 a.m. Monday when deputies with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office arrived at a home on Richmond Street in Baker, Louisiana, where someone had earlier called 911.

Inside, they found Christin Parker, 32, and her nephew, Brandon Parker, 26, shot to death, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.

Smith, 30, grabbed his 3-month-old son and fled the scene in a blue Nissan Versa, reports said.

Another child of the older victim ran to neighbors for help and identified Smith as the suspect, The Advocate reported.

Louisiana authorities immediately informed the public about the killings and the missing child.

Several hours later, Smith’s car was spotted heading east on Interstate 10 near Gulfport, Mississippi.

By this time the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Gulfport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office had joined the pursuit, and shut down eastbound lanes of I-10 while making several attempts to stop Smith’s car, which now had two flat tires.

After his car entered Biloxi, Smith tried to cross the 1-10 median to go westbound, but he got stuck in the grass, the Sun Herald reported.

The chase ended in a hail of gunfire, but the circumstances of what prompted the officers to shoot remain unclear.

Biloxi police are handling the investigation because none of that department’s officers were involved in the shooting, according to reports.


(c) 2021 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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