A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy was fatally shot Wednesday afternoon during a pedestrian stop on the West Bank, and authorities were questioning a man taken into custody a short time later.
The deputy, David F. Michel Jr., was shot three times in the back and taken to University Medical Center in New Orleans, said Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich, the Jefferson Parish coroner.
Michel, 50, of Marrero, joined the Sheriff’s Office as a reserve officer in 2007 and became a full-time deputy in 2013, serving in the 2nd District patrol division. Most recently, he had been assigned to the Street Crimes Unit.
The name of the man accused of killing Michel — who was being treated at University Medical Center for minor injuries — was not immediately released, but Sheriff Newell Normand planned to hold a news conference at 10 p.m. to discuss the shooting.
The man was taken into custody in the Pebble Walk neighborhood, where authorities said he fled after the shooting.
The shooting happened at 12:21 p.m. during a pedestrian stop outside the Dunkin’ Donuts shop at Manhattan Boulevard and Ascot Road in Harvey, Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said.
He said a “struggle ensued” between the deputy and the assailant, who pulled a gun from his waistband and began firing. The gunman continued firing even after the deputy fell to the ground, Fortunato said.
The shooting drew a massive law enforcement response to Harvey as authorities combed the area for the shooter. A police helicopter could be seen circling overhead.
Shortly before 2 p.m., an ambulance with lights flashing and siren blaring flew up the University Medical Center ramp, accompanied by a marked Sheriff’s Office cruiser. Minutes later, a motorcade of unmarked police vehicles rushed toward the hospital, followed shortly by five State Police motorcycles.
Cvitanovich, the coroner, said Michel’s autopsy was underway Wednesday afternoon.
Michel was well-liked in the Sheriff’s Office and was known as a “good cop,” Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro said.
“He was always a nice guy,” Taffaro said. “Every time I’ve run across him he’s been cordial.”
Michel’s wife, who works in the Sheriff’s Office’s insurance division, had been just down the road at Chick-fil-A when the shooting occurred. She saw the lights and heard the sirens, Taffaro said.
“Unfortunately, it was him,” the chief deputy said, referring to Michel.
Taffaro said he spoke with Michel’s father by phone Wednesday afternoon. “He said, ‘The only thing I can say about this is he died doing what he loved to do,’ ” Taffaro said.
Michel is the second Jefferson Parish deputy to be shot in the line of duty this year. In January, Deputy Stephen Arnold, a 12-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was wounded during a pre-dawn drug raid in the Lower 9th Ward.
The last Jefferson Parish deputy to be killed in the line of duty was Joshua Norris, who was fatally shot in 2007 responding to a domestic disturbance, according to the Sheriff’s Office’s website.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts interrupted a council meeting Wednesday to hold a moment of silence for the fallen deputy and his loved ones.
He said later that Gretna’s water tower would be illuminated in blue to show support for the local law enforcement community, and that the parish General Government Building on Derbigny Street and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome would be lit up as well.
“We stand with all of our (law enforcement officers),” Roberts said on Facebook.
Staff writers Matt Sledge, Jim Mustian and Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.