The New Orleans Police Department is mourning an officer who was shot and killed while on patrol early Friday in New Orleans East.
Officer Marcus McNeil, 29, was pronounced dead at University Medical Center shortly after the shooting, according to police officials. McNeil, a three-year veteran of the department, is survived by his wife and two children, ages 5 and 2.
“This hurts,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said a few hours after the shooting. “I can’t begin to tell you how much this hurts.”
McNeil, known in the department as “Milk Dud,” was on routine patrol when he was shot, Harrison said. In a news conference outside the hospital, Harrison and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu updated the media on the shooting and the aftermath.
“Our department is grieving, our city is grieving and this family is grieving," Harrison said. “We ask the city to pray for us and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.”
The suspect in the shooting, who police have not publicly identified, was injured when McNeil’s colleagues returned fire. The man was also taken to University Hospital, where he was arrested. His condition was not immediately available.
NOLA.com reported that family members of the suspect identified him as Darren Bridges, 30, a convicted felon.
Harrison said the shooting took place just after midnight when four officers, including McNeil, “saw something that aroused their suspicion.” At least one of the officers got out of their patrol cars and the alleged gunman opened fire.
McNeil was struck several times, collapsing onto the ground. Bridges was also struck several times after one or more of the officers returned fire.
After being shot, the alleged gunman fled into a nearby apartment building. He remained holed up in an apartment until SWAT officers and negotiators talked him into surrendering peacefully.
Landrieu said Friday was one of the “worst days” as mayor of the city. He said that he and Harrison had met with McNeil’s family and his fellow officers, consoling them on their loss.
“The entire department, when this happens, is in trauma,” Landrieu said. “It strikes at the heart of the city.”
Chaplains and grief counselors have been made available to officers and other department members.
In a July 2016 post on the NOPD website, McNeil, who was assigned to the city’s 7th District, addressed how he got the nickname “Milk Dud.”
“I was in field training when I arrested a subject who was attempting to get a rise out of me by calling me ‘Milk Dud’ because of my shiny bald head, that he believed resembled the candy Milk Duds,” McNeil said. “Everyone in the district found it hilarious, saying it was true and then began calling me ‘Milk Dud.’
“I've since embraced the name, often referring to myself as ‘The Dud’ when bragging about a good arrest.”
Bridges’ family expressed shock over the shooting.
“I just can’t believe it,” his grandmother, Alma Barnes, told NOLA.com. “I don’t know. I just put it in the Lord’s hands.”
The news site reported that Barnes’ criminal history includes convictions for battery, theft and marijuana possession. He was released on parole for good behavior in May 2015, after serving about half of a six and a half-year sentence for attempted possession of a firearm by a felon, court records showed.
He was arrested again last March on a charge of domestic abuse battery involving strangulation, NOLA.com reported. The arrest put him back on supervised parole, which was slated to end next June.
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