West Memphis Police Inspector Bert Shelton said officers were “running drug interdiction” on Interstate 40 in east Arkansas when they pulled over a white van with Ohio license plates. The two men got out of the van and opened fire on the officers with AK-47s, he said. Paudert, the son of West Memphis’ police chief, died at the scene and Evans died at a hospital.
Traffic stopped as authorities searched vehicles on Interstate 40 looking for the suspects, who were later spotted in the parking lot of a nearby Walmart. Dozens of officers swarmed the van and both suspects were shot to death, authorities said. The Crittenden County sheriff and his chief deputy were wounded in the shootout.
Walmart employee Iesha Person said she arrived at work around 1:20 p.m. as her co-workers, who were running out the door, told her to flee.
“I was hearing gunshots,” Person, 19, told The Commercial Appeal. “They were telling me to turn around. So I turned my tail around.”
Another witnesses described the scene on Interstate 40 as “chaos.” Stacy Gilchrist said she saw a police officer lying in the road when she pulled up.
“It was a disaster, cars were just going everywhere,” Gilchrist told Memphis television station WMC.