A Concordia Parish deputy continues to recover in a Jackson hospital after being shot Thursday by an armed robbery suspect who was later found dead of a gunshot wound at River Manor Apartments across from Wal-Mart in Vidalia.
CPSO deputy Walter Mackel was shot when he and two other deputies responded to a call of an early morning robbery.
A GoFundMe account has been set up on Facebook and around $6,000 has been raised. The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office is also taking donations for Mackel and his family.
Hedrick said when his deputies made contact with the suspect at the apartment; the suspect immediately shot Mackel with Mackel returning fire.
Hedrick said deputies John Cowan, Tony Godbold, Chad Fuqua and David Washington were able to pull Mackel from the scene.
According to a public post on Facebook, Pamala Michelle Mackel says her husband was hit by the bullet in his left lung and kidney. She posted, "Yes, Walter was in surgery everything went well, his left lung and kidney were hit. He has a tube in his chest and stomach to help keep air and blood drained. They did not remove bullet because it would’ve caused more damage. We’ll be in the hospital for the next few days."
Walter was alert Monday and moving around the hospital in a wheelchair. Pamala Mackel posted a picture of him in the hospital chapel.
Hedrick, CPSO prison warden Lance Moore and Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill were attending a meeting when they received word of the shooting.
"We were just trying to get there as fast as possible," Hedrick said.
"I knew an officer was involved in the shooting and I was praying they were not hurt bad," Merrill said. "And I was hoping we could resolve this problem without anyone else getting hurt. We knew it was an armed robbery so we knew the suspect had a weapon."
Traffic heading west that was backed up to the Mississippi River Bridge was diverted into the Walmart parking lot and turned around, having to detour on Hwy. 15 to get to Ferriday.
The standoff lasted approximately four hours.
Law enforcement agencies from all over, including a State Police helicopter arrived at the scene and waited it out before forcefully entering the apartment to find the shooter deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.
The Louisiana State Police, which is investigating the shooting, named the suspect as Kaleb Melton, 21, of Vidalia.
Hedrick said Thursday’s incident demonstrates the dangers deputies face every day on the job.
“It is not for the faint of heart,” Hedrick said. “We enter into the job with a soft hand as much as we can, but sometimes it turns on you and then you have to deal with something like this.”
Hedrick said he is thankful for all of the support from law enforcement, including from the Vidalia, Ferriday and Natchez police departments along with the Adams County, Catahoula Parish and Tensas Parish sheriff’s offices responded to the incident. Officers from Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana, also responded, Hedrick said.
"This is the reason we train every day for these types of situations," Hedrick said.
Merrill said the Vidalia Police Department was on call to assist since it was so close to the city limits.
“Given the circumstances it could have ended a lot worst than it did. All the agencies came together to end this. This is why we work so close with surrounding agencies. It took everybody."