Prosecutor Says Man Who Killed Rampage Suspect Won't Face Charges

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I’m not surprised in the slightest by the prosecutor’s decision. I’m just wondering why it took this long to officially announce it.

A Fort Smith man who stopped a shooting rampage in May by killing the gunman won’t face criminal charges, prosecutors said.

Sebastian County Prosecutor Dan Shue announced his decision Wednesday in a letter to Police Chief Danny Baker. Shue said after reviewing the investigative reports surrounding the shooting, his office concluded Wallace A. West, 58, was justified under Arkansas law in the fatal shooting of Zachary Brian Arnold, 26.

West shot Arnold after Arnold killed Lois Hicks, 87, in her home at Three Corners Apartments at 3600 S. 74th St., according to police.

“Mr. West acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Arnold and likely saved a number of lives in the process,” a Police Department news release states. “At last count, Mr. Arnold had fired 93 rounds from his semiautomatic rifle before Mr. West was able to stop him. There were no other fatalities or injuries, though a number of residents were home at the time of the assault.”

This incident happened back on May 15th. It took two months for the investigation to conclude that West was justified in shooting and killing Arnold, who was actively trying to kill his neighbors? I know procedures have to be followed, but it should have taken a matter of minutes, not months, to determine that West was in the right to stop the attack at the apartment complex.

It certainly didn’t take Wallace’s neighbors too long to reach that conclusion.

Neighbors who witnessed the shooting say Arnold was trying to persuade people to come outside their apartment buildings.

“He was yelling and screaming, “You guys get out here, come out here, everyone gets out of this building right now,” says Janey Peugh, a resident of the apartment complex.

Another resident, Amber Lane, says Lois Hicks and Arnold live in the same building. She says Hicks and another neighbor went outside to console Arnold, but they ran back inside their apartments when they saw the gun.

“There were two older women. Both had come out. One of them had run back in, and the other one ran back in, but she didn’t close her door, then he walked in and did what he did,” says Lane.

Neighbors say Arnold could open fire on anyone in the apartment building, so they took cover while he continued to shoot into the residences. Some say they are grateful for the one neighbor who stepped in and put an end to the shooting.

“If he didn’t do that, who knows how much worse it could have gotten,” says Lane.

According to the prosecutor, it could have gotten much worse were it not for the quick thinking and fast action on the part of Wallace West.

West, identified in the Police Department news release Wednesday as an off-duty employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, woke to the sound of gunshots, Shue wrote. He ran outside and saw Arnold shooting into Hicks’ apartment.

West then grabbed a bolt action rifle, which was scoped and loaded, from his gun cabinet, stepped onto his balcony and fired once at Arnold, missing him because he was “shaking so badly,” according to his witness statement.

Arnold turned and fired several rounds at West.

Arnold went back into his apartment, presumably to reload, and he came back outside, Shue wrote. He began walking down the complex, rifle in hand, according to West. West took a second shot, which struck Arnold in the head and killed him.

West waited by Arnold’s body until police arrived.

Wallace West is a hero, though I’m sure he doesn’t see it that way. As the prosecutor noted, while there were some mental health issues with the suspect, who, according to his mother, had been “on the decline” mentally for about a month before the attack, “had West not acted in a swift and decisive manner, my office could just as easily be dealing with multiple homicides rather than the homicide of Lois Hicks and the justified shooting of Zachary Arnold.”

I’m glad the prosecutor’s finally reached that conclusion, even if I don’t understand why it took two months to get there.