‘Beloved’ police officer shot in the head and killed after pleading with suspect to drop a gun

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DOYLINE, LA – A police officer was shot and killed while pleading with the suspect to drop a gun on Friday as officers responded to a disturbance on Green Tree Street in Doyline, about 20 miles east of Shreveport.

State police said around 5:45 p.m. on July 9, Doyline police officer William Earl Collins Jr. and two Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies exchanged gunfire with a suspect, identified as 59-year-old Mahlon Taylor, upon arrival to the call.

Officer Collins, locally known as “Billy,” was shot in the head by the suspect. He was airlifted to Ochsner LSU Health where he died just after 7:40 p.m.

The two deputies were not injured. The Doyline police cruiser and the deputies’ vehicles were damaged by gunfire during the shootout.

Authorities said that multiple other agencies arrived at the scene, and Taylor barricaded himself inside a mobile home.

Shortly before 11 p.m., two shots were heard inside the home. Officers made entry into the and found the suspect injured from a gunshot wound. Taylor was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he is in critical condition.

Officer Collins was working part-time for the Doyline Police Department and was also a full-time Webster Parish sheriff’s deputy. Sheriff Jason Parker spoke about the fallen hero during a press conference:

“We lost a good man, a family lost a good husband, a good father, a good Webster Parish deputy, a good reserve office, patrol officer for the city of Doyline that loved and served his citizens well.”

Parker thanked the over 200 law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, calling their support “overwhelming”:

“It just breaks my heart because every time we put on this uniform, and we go out and try to serve the public this could happen to anybody. This could happen to any one of us.”

Doyline Mayor Steven Bridwell commented:

“This has got to be the most tragic day that I’ve ever experienced here, and I never thought I’d see this here in our community.

“Billy was loved in the community.”

The Mayor asked that everyone keep the Collins family in their prayers.

Local residents talked to local media about the events that night, and their memories of the hero officer who sacrificed his life for them.

One resident said he and his wife were in their garage when they heard the gunshots:

“Me and my wife are in the garage, and we heard three or four gunshots pop off.”

After the gunshots, the resident observed Collins trying to talk to the suspect:

“It was, ‘You don’t have to do this. Come on out brother, drop the gun. You don’t have to do this dude.’ But I didn’t know he was shot because I could still hear him hollering.”

An employee at the Doyline Country Store, a local hangout where Officer Collins frequented, said that he never expected such an incident in their small town. Cashier Alex Hozan said:

“He was a pretty nice guy. He welcomed us into this community when we first bought this store. Everybody loves him over here; he’s really respected in town.”

Hozan said Taylor was also a customer at the store and did not give any indication of pending tragedy:

“He would just come and get his stuff and go. I never expected anything like this to happen. I never saw it coming.”

Collins visited the store on his way to work Friday, Hozan recalled, recognizing the dangers police officers face every day in service to their communities:

“You really don’t know as soon as you walk out, you don’t know if you’re going to come home or not. It’s really just sad.”

Another resident seemed to sum up the feeling of the tightknit community:

“I never thought that this would happen in a little community like Doyline. Like we’re not even a town, we’re a village.

“I didn’t think anything would like that would happen here. And it didn’t deserve to happen to a man who was just responding to a call.”

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LET Unity
On Facebook, the Village of Doyline issued a statement citing a popular Bible phrase in the law enforcement community:

“The community of Doyline grieves the senseless death of one of our own, Officer Billy Collins. He was killed tonight in the line of duty while responding to a call for service. We are heartbroken for his family, friends, and fellow officers.

“I ask that you join us in lifting up Billy’s family, his Doyline Police Department family, and his Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office family in your prayers. ‘Blessed are peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.’ -Matthew 5:9.”

Condolences were not just coming from the local community.  Facebook was overrun with messages of sorrow and praise for the officer and his family.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry released the following statement:

“Today, I join my fellow citizens in mourning the tragic death of Webster Parish Deputy and part-time Doyline Police Officer Billy Collins. Our men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day, and last night Officer Collins paid the ultimate price.

“I thank his family for his faithful service to the community and pray for God’s blessing on them during this difficult time.”

Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office also invoked a popular Bible verse in their condolences:

“Our hearts go out to Sheriff Jason Parker and our brothers and sisters of the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and Doyline PD. Please know Sheriff Mark Wood and the men and women of Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office extend our deepest sympathies to all of you in the death of Deputy William Earl ‘Billy’ Collins, Jr.

“‘Also, I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me.’ -Isaiah 6:8 KJV.”

The Shreveport Police Officers Association paid a heartfelt tribute to Officer Collins:

“Our hearts are broken this morning. We have lost a brother and Northwest Louisiana once again suffers the tragedy of a murdered police officer. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Billy Collins. We are praying for the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Doyline Police Department as they suffer through this tragedy. We know all too well what you are feeling. Know that the SPOA stands ready to help you in any way possible.

“The days to come will bring doubt and disbelief. Stay the course, you good and faithful servants. You are loved and respected by your brothers and sisters in Shreveport. We ask that all who want and desire a lawful society to surround these organizations with your prayers and love at this time. Billy Collins went to help his fellow man. He is and will always be a hero of Louisiana.”

Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations/Bossier Field Office (LSP BFO) is the investigating agency for the shooting.  Authorities said the investigation is ongoing, and that charges are pending.

Collins is the fourth area law enforcement officer to die in violent encounters while on the job since 2015.

The other heroes are:

 

  • Shreveport police Officer Thomas LaValley was gunned down on Aug. 5, 2015, while answering a disturbance call in Shreveport. His killer, Grover Cannon, was convicted of first-degree murder in November 2019 and sentenced to life in prison.

 

  • Shreveport police Officer Chateri Payne was fatally shot on Jan. 9, 2019, outside of her patrol unit at her home as she was leaving for work. Her estranged boyfriend, Treveon Anderson, is the accused triggerman. He and two co-defendants, Lawrence Pierre II and Glenn Frierson, are awaiting trial.

 

  • DeSoto Parish sheriff’s Deputy Donna Richardson-Below died on Feb. 12, 2020, in a two-car crash outside of Mansfield. Richard Wimer, 33, of Stonewall, was the driver of the other vehicle. Vehicular homicide and reckless operation charges are pending in DeSoto District Court.

 

 

 

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