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Police shooting suspect linked to '03 attack

A man suspected of fatally shooting a police officer during a traffic stop in northeast Arkansas was accused seven years ago of attacking another officer who is now the town's police chief, according to records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
TRUMANN, Ark. (AP) - A man suspected of fatally shooting a police officer during a traffic stop in northeast Arkansas was accused seven years ago of attacking another officer who is now the town's police chief, according to records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Trumann police released documents to the AP that show Jerry Lard was accused of assaulting Tony Rusher in 2003, though they don't say if he was convicted. Courthouse records were not immediately available Thursday night because the office had closed.

Rusher, now Trumann's police chief, told the AP that he was accompanying a social worker for a welfare check at Lard's home when Lard punched him in the jaw in broad daylight.

"This guy literally attacked me in full uniform," said Rusher who was a patrolman at the time.

Earlier this week, police said Lard, 37, shot and killed Officer Jonathan Schmidt in a late-night gun battle after Schmidt pulled over a car that a quick license plate check showed might not have insurance.

Lard had not been formally charged in the shooting death of the 30-year-old Schmidt, but investigators named him as the gunman on Wednesday. He remained hospitalized Thursday night under police guard. Lard's family declined to comment.

Lard was also arrested for domestic violence in 2000 after his then-wife told police that Lard hit her and took off with her son, records show. Since then, Lard has been no stranger to police in this Delta community of some 7,000. He has been jailed for other allegations ranging from failing to appear in court to domestic abuse, records show.

Some of Lard's interactions with authorities and an interview with a family friend portrayed Lard as a man motivated by his family. He once called authorities to check on his grandmother and again when he said a dog bit his daughter.

Lard, an "almost spitting image" of rock star Axel Rose, lived for his five children, family friend Swanda Hardin said Thursday. But now, Hardin said she worried about his kids - and Schmidt's three children.

"Eight babies are going to be raised without a daddy now," Hardin said, referring to Lard's five children and Schmidt's three.

On Tuesday, Lard was riding with three friends when Schmidt pulled over the car in front an apartment complex. Another officer arrived a few minutes later. Schmidt was smiling and joking with the driver, Keith Elumbaugh, as he arrested him for an unrelated warrant - an allegation that he violated the town's leash law with his ex-girlfriend's dog.

When Schmidt approached the rear passenger door where Lard was sitting, Lard lunged at him and shot him in the neck, according to Elumbaugh and April Swanner, who was also in the car. As Lard continued shooting, he cursed at Schmidt and told him to die, Elumbaugh and Swanner said.

Yet, even with an initial wound to his neck, Schmidt managed to shove his sergeant out of harm's way. It was the last heroic act by an officer who was recently honored for saving the life of an infant.

After the gunfire stopped, Lard laid face-down on the ground while authorities had a body bag at the ready, said Lisa Carlson, 48, whose apartment was pierced by a stray bullet.

"For 45 minutes to an hour, they didn't touch him," Carlson said.

Eventually, officials rolled him over, shocked him as if to bring him back to life and handcuffed him, she said. Authorities declined to comment on his condition.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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