BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The three-month old child who police say was kidnapped by his father in Louisiana has died after a police shootout on Monday.
Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer told WLOX the three-month old infant died at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday at a Mobile hospital. The infant has been identified as La’Mello Parker, a boy who was born Jan. 23, 2021.
The infant was trapped in the car with the child’s father, who police identified as 30-year-old Eric Derell Smith. Smith is accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend and her nephew early Monday in Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Parish. Smith then left with the infant and fled east, said authorities.
The police pursuit began in Louisiana and crossed over the Mississippi line. At the 10 mile marker in Hancock County, shots were fired. Since officers knew Smith was likely traveling with the infant, they worked to bring him to a safe, slow stop, closing off exits along the interstate to keep other drivers safe, as well.
In Long Beach near mile marker 28, stop sticks were deployed. The suspect drove around them so the chase continued further east into Harrison County. The vehicle eventually came to a stop in the median near the Woolmarket exit.
Smith was killed when gunfire was exchanged between the suspect and officers. The baby was also shot and was rushed to Merit Health in Biloxi, then air lifted to USA Trauma Center in Mobile, Ala., said authorities.
Police initially said the baby was in stable condition. However, on Tuesday morning, Biloxi Police confirmed that the child had died.
“Despite the efforts of medical staff, the child passed away as a result of the injuries sustained. As stated, the investigation is ongoing at this time. Once a thorough investigation is completed the details will be released to the District Attorney’s Office for review,” said Maj. Chris DeBack in a release from Biloxi Police Department.
Switzer said an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
“An autopsy will be done tomorrow to determine the exact cause of death. All we are releasing now is that he died as a result of his injuries,” Switzer told WLOX.
According to Switzer, Smith was sitting in the driver’s seat of the car when he was hit with multiple gun shots. The coroner said the shot that killed him was not a self-inflicted wound.
It’s not yet clear if the baby was struck by a bullet or shrapnel. An autopsy, also scheduled for Wednesday, will give a clearer picture of the cause of death.
Louisiana investigators identified the victims shot and killed in Baker, Louisiana, as Christin Parker, 32, and her 26-year-old nephew Brandon Parker. The four-month-old baby was the child of Christin Parker and Eric Smith.
The suspect’s vehicle, a blue Nissan Versa with dark tinted windows, was spotted on MDOT traffic cameras with a large number of law enforcement vehicles in pursuit.
At least 50 law enforcement vehicles from multiple agencies were all involved in the pursuit and traffic control, including Mississippi Highway Patrol, Louisiana State Police, Biloxi Police Department, the U.S. Marshal Service, and deputies from Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties.
All Mississippi state troopers involved in the incident have been placed on non-disciplinary administrative leave, but the Department of Public Safety would not say exactly how many officers that involved. Harrison County and the Gulfport Police Department have each placed one officer on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The Jackson County and Hancock County sheriff’s departments said they didn’t have any officers involved in the shooting.