A U.S. Marshal paid a "very high price" to bring a double murderer to justice when he was gunned down Tuesday in a shootout near a Baton Rouge hotel by a fugitive who died from his own wounds early Wednesday, authorities said.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells, 27, was killed late Tuesday morning while trying to arrest Jamie Croom, who was suspected of killing a brother and sister outside a Baton Rouge-area bar last month, officials said. He was the first deputy marshal killed in the line of duty since March 2011.
"Deputy marshals risk their lives every day going after the worst of the worst," said Drew Wade, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service. "This is a sad day for law enforcement."
Roughly 13 hours later, early Wednesday morning, Croom, 31, who had a lengthy criminal record, died at an area hospital, according to The Advocate.
"He was a dangerous criminal," Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Beauregard Torres III said. "It was a very high price to pay for this warrant to bring this man [to justice]. It was a very, very high price."
"Deputy marshals risk their lives every day going after the worst of the worst."
- Drew Wade, US Marshals Service.
Wells, who was a member of the U.S. Marshal's Task Force for the Southern District Office in Mississippi, was killed about 11 a.m., Wade said. The last time a deputy marshal was killed in the line of duty in the U.S. was in March 2011.
U.S. Attorney Walt Green, of Louisiana's Middle District, said in a statement late Tuesday that Croom was charged in a federal criminal complaint with Wells' murder. Further details were not provided.
Croom was wanted in the Feb. 20 shooting deaths of Sinica Williams, 38 and LaChelle Williams, 42, outside the Sugar Shack nightclub, in a rural area about 20 miles outside of Baton Rouge, according to Torres.
In the Tuesday incident, a task force led by federal Marshals was serving an arrest warrant when the shootout happened, Torres said.
Croom, a resident of New Roads, had a lengthy criminal record, Torres said.
Torres said investigators have not established a motive in the shootings of the brother and sister.
Wade said the FBI would lead the investigation into the shooting death of Wells. The FBI referred questions Tuesday to the Marshals Service.
Wells was a graduate of Jackson State University.
"He was a tremendous student," East Central Principal James Hughey told WLOX-TV. "He was very well liked."
Mississippi state Rep. Manly Barton of Moss Point said Wells' father, Obie Wells Sr., is a retired Jackson County sheriff's deputy. His brother, Obie Wells Jr., is an officer with the Jackson Police Department in the state capital.
"His dad was so proud of him for being a U.S. marshal," Barton said.