Standoff ends with 2 dead, 3 injured

Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today Multiple law enforcement agencies surround a house in Iuka where an officer-involved shooting took place.

Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today
Multiple law enforcement agencies surround a house in Iuka where an officer-involved shooting took place.

Daily Journal

IUKA – One law enforcement officer was killed and three were wounded early Saturday after a six-hour long standoff at a rural Mississippi house ended when authorities stormed the house and the gunman inside opened fire, authorities said.

Also killed was the man suspected of firing on the officers.

TARTT

TARTT

The standoff started Friday afternoon when authorities responded to a domestic dispute call at the home in Tishomingo County, authorities said.

But the man, holed up in his home with his wife and 10-year-old daughter, refused to come out, sparking a six-hour standoff with officers outside, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain.

Strain said the man wasn’t shooting at officers before they entered the house, but they had tried to talk with him for six hours and had fundamentally exhausted negotiations.

The woman and child were rescued, said Strain. But the man was killed after he opened fire as tactical teams entered the home.

Multiple police agencies remained on the scene Saturday afternoon at the one-story house in sparsely populated woods in Tishomingo County.

Killed were James Lee Tartt, 44, who was a Mississippi narcotics agent, and suspected gunman Charles Lee Lambert, who was 45. The high-powered rifle Lambert used was also recovered from inside the house.

Tartt was a decorated officer who had been in law enforcement for 22 years. He joined the narcotics bureau in 2000 and in 2011 had been honored as agent of the year, Strain said.

Strain said Tartt is the fifth Miss. Bureau of Narcotics agent killed in agency’s 45-year history. The last agent killed was in 1998.

Tartt’s family described him as a dedicated officer who had spent most of his career battling drugs.

“He was just a really good guy, and he wanted to make the world a better place. Ever since I’ve known him he has always been the type who would do anything to make the world a better place,” said Julia Criss Tartt, the aunt of the slain officer.

LAMBERT

LAMBERT

Her husband, Don Tartt, who is the slain officer’s uncle, said Lee Tartt and his wife had just moved into a new house that the officer had been building for the last two years. They had married about a year ago, said Don Tartt, adding that Lee Tartt’s new wife had two children who became his stepchildren when they married.

Don Tartt said his daughter is Donna Tartt, the author who has written such books as “The Secret History” and “The Goldfinch,” and she was a cousin of the slain officer.

“Lee has always been a kind of dedicated kid,” said Don Tartt. “It’s just sad that he had to meet the end like he did, but when you’re in law enforcement you have to expect that.”

Three state troopers who entered the home were wounded. The most seriously wounded officer was out of surgery Saturday and in critical but stable condition at a hospital in Corinth, said Strain.

The other two officers were in fair condition at hospitals in Memphis and Tupelo, Strain said.

Lambert’s family said Saturday that law enforcement officials involved in the incident should have let family members speak with him as the standoff ensued.

Lambert’s adoptive mother, Katherine Hudson of Iuka, said she disagrees with how law enforcement handled the situation.

The officers would not let her speak with Lambert when the incident was taking place, she said.

“They wouldn’t let nobody talk to him,” she said.

Asked how she felt about how law enforcement handled the situation, Hudson said, “I feel like they didn’t know what they was doing. It was all their fault, because we (family members) could have talked to him and everything would have been all right. That’s what I tried to tell them. I tried to tell them that.”

Strain said the family is entitled to their opinion on how the incident was handled.

“These people (law enforcement) are trained to do what they do and the first order of business is preservation of life,” he said.

Strain declined further comment.

Around Iuka, Lambert was known as “Peanut.”

Lambert’s biological mother, Diane Richardson of Nashville, also said the family should have been allowed to speak with Lambert.

“If any of the family would have been able to go in and talk to him, he would have been fine, and the officer would have been fine,” Richardson said.

Richardson was not present during the incident.

Asked how she thinks law enforcement handled the situation, Richardson said, “From what I hear, they didn’t handle it very good, and besides that there was a 10-year-old girl in there. How did they know that she wasn’t going to get shot?”

Lambert “had been having problems,” said Hudson, adding, “He had gotten ill. It was like he wanted to be out there by himself.”

But she said Lambert was well liked and that it was unlike him to shoot an officer.

“Everybody loved Peanut,” Hudson said. “He wasn’t going to hurt nobody.”

Richardson also disagreed with the incident being referred to as a hostage situation.

“They said on the news that it was a hostage, and it was not a hostage,” Richardson said. “The baby and his wife could go in and out when they wanted to, and the police knew that.”

Lambert’s wife declined comment.

Richardson said she feels sorry for the narcotics agent who was killed and the other officers who were wounded.

“I feel sorry for the one that died, and I feel sorry for the ones that got shot,” Richardson said. “They got family; they got kids. But if they would have let somebody go in there and talk to Peanut then they wouldn’t have had to put their life in danger.”

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Josh Mitchell of Corinth Today and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Cameron Triplett Sr

    Allowing a family member to talk to a disturbed person can be a solution, & it should be tried whenever possible. Swat teams & other special units need to back off & just keep practicing scenarios until they’re truly needed. Somebody made a bad call here.

    • Jose Battaglia

      Yes, Peanut made the bad call. Time to stop second-guessing the cops in armed standoffs until/unless you’re ready to be in their shoes.

      • gedcom

        Gang rape is a democracy. Five persons say “yes,” one person says “no,” and the majority rules, electing one of themselves to be “sheriff,” who is to handcuff the victim. One vote is useless and so is campaigning when the majority does not give a fire truck about the unalienable rights of the victim, but killing the “sheriff” might work, and is absolutely justified. If he didn’t want to get himself killed, he should not have agreed to take the job. yes, i will second-guess law enforcement when I am not ready to be in their shoes. Truth is, those animals threw a flash grenade into Bounkham Phonesavanh’s playpen. No human being will ever be safe until the last cop is dead.

  • PoFoke

    “These people (law enforcement) are trained to do what they do and the first order of business is preservation of life,”
    Yeah, how’d that work out for ’em?

  • Willie Johnson

    I am very sorry at the loss of life, particularly of the MBN officer. A terrible event. Two questions: was dope involved? If not, why the MBN?

    Second question. “Strain said the man wasn’t shooting at officers before they entered the house, but they had tried to talk with him for six hours and had fundamentally exhausted negotiations.” Okay, he wasn’t shooting. If the “first order of business is the preservation of life” why not simply wait him out?

    Of course I do not know all the facts and certainly don’t want to second guess LE authorities or show disrespect but questions persist.

    • Thile

      Every piece of info from several media outlets fails to explain why the MBN was even involved. Were they called in by the local police/sheriff’s department?

      • ChristiMac

        Agent Tartt was there in his capacity as a SWAT team member. He was not there in the capacity of a narcotics officer.

  • Jose Battaglia

    Sorry Momma, but you had 45 years to raise “Peanut” correctly and you chose to raise a drug-dealing killer. Please don’t lecture the police on how to come in and clean up the mess you created.

    • gedcom

      In a free country, each person would freely decide what drugs, if any, to use. I will lecture on how to clean up the mess: Throw the cop’s carcass into a dumpster with the rest of the garbage.

      On 29 August 2002, two goons from the Prince Georges County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland chose to get themselves shot dead trying to take an innocent person to a mental institution.

      On 4 April 2004, a goon from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina chose to get himself shot dead trying to take an innocent man to a mental institution.

      On 13 December 2005, a despondent gentleman in Virginia was lured
      by a promise of therapy into a session with Kathy M. Godbey, L.C.S.W.
      Next thing he knew, gun-toting goons in bulletproof vests were forcing
      him into a vehicle. They took him to a mental institution where he was
      locked up and drugged. Apparently, he must not have been very happy
      about it, considering what he did on 16 April 2007 on the campus of
      Virginia Tech, where the body count stands at 33. Too bad he targeted
      innocent persons.

      On 22 July 2008, a goon from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida chose to get himself shot dead trying to take an innocent man to a mental institution.

      On 15 March 2009, a goon from the Turner County Sheriff’s Department in South Dakota chose to get himself shot dead trying to take an innocent man to a mental institution.

      That’s what it takes these days to say “NO” to drugs. What part of “NO” do the goons not understand? “NO” means “NO”.

      According to AFSP, 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year; …Obviously because they could not seek help, for fear of being locked up and drugged.

      • Jose Battaglia

        You need to consider moving to another country. You don’t really understand America, do you?

        • breid1903

          i think he understands it perfectly.

          ice cream. raz

  • gedcom

    The animals threw a flash grenade into Bounkham Phonesavanh’s playpen and they whine like crybabies every time one of their own pay the price for trying to intimidate innocent persons into obeying the unjust laws of an unjust government. Truth is, no human being will ever be safe until the last cop is dead. Defend liberty with ballots or Freedom Fighters will defend liberty with bullets. Any objection? Objection overruled, casket closed.

    • anonymous

      Aren’t Freedom Fighters to be the brave force that stands and liberates a people from brutal tyranny? And yet, you hide behind your screen and false name… If the MBN is the malevolent source of your tyranny, why not display your real name as a defiant stand against them to begin the liberation of such an oppressed group of people. As it would not take a virtuoso of code found on a local continuous publication’s moderator website to find such information about a person. Perhaps the psychological draw to witness the stand of an underdog is appealing to me, nevertheless, even the most unrelenting guerrilla warrior divulged their name.

    • anonymous

      pussy

    • guest

      You are a coward. I pray that someday you will put your money where your mouth is.

  • Winston Smith

    Seems like a huge mistake to make entry into the house.. I wasn’t there so I can’t speak as to what went down or why that decision was made, but when you knock a door down knowing there’s an armed man on the other side what do you think will happen? If the wife and daughter weren’t in imminent danger why make entry at all? Why not just wait him out? I really hate it for everybody involved but just going off the facts I’ve read online this was a really bad call on the part of whatever particular agency made that decision.

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  • TWBDB

    It truly saddens me to see how some people are so grossly callous to the challenges, grief, and pain of their fellow human beings. My heart and prayers goes out to all families affected. And to you here who apparently have no heart or consideration for them, may God have mercy on your soul.