A Mississippi police chief under investigation for a "personnel" issue was suspended without pay around 3pm Thursday. Moments later, colleagues say Bay St. Louis' top cop walked into the police station parking lot and intentionally shot himself in the chest. Mike DeNardo, 63, was alert and talking while being loaded into an ambulance but was pronounced dead at a hospital, reports the Sun Herald. The Hancock County Sheriff's Office—which has taken temporarily control of the police department—had been asked to assist in escorting DeNardo from the police station and "it just kind of went bad, I guess," Sheriff Ricky Adam tells WLOX.
Adam says two sheriff's deputies were confiscating DeNardo's keys and weapons when the shooting occurred, per the Clarion Ledger. "It's difficult for a police officer when he is relieved of his duty, so maybe that played into it," he says. Officers aren't saying what DeNardo was being investigated for, and though the Sun Herald reports the department is missing $300,000 in DOJ forfeiture funds, Mayor Les Fillingame says the issue involving DeNardo was more personal than professional, per WWL-TV. It was "just the very initial phase of an investigation," and DeNardo likely would've been cleared of wrongdoing, he adds, per the New York Daily News. (Read more Mississippi stories.)