Rector Shooting Investigation Continues
The Arkansas State Police continues to investigate the standoff which occurred Wednesday, Dec. 26, in Rector, which left a local man dead and a community in shock. According to reports from the ASP, the incident began around 4 p.m. near the busy intersection of U.S. Highway 49 and Main Street. Investigators noted the Rector Police Department was summoned to the scene on the report of a man brandishing a handgun, and upon arrival they confronted Gary Warbritton, 21, of Rector.
Clad only in pajama bottoms and boots, Warbritton made his way west along Highway 49, where he was confronted by a Rector patrolman adjacent to the former Crockett Oil building across from the Flash Market. Waving the handgun in the air, he continually refused to surrender the weapon.
Additional authorities responded to the location, including the remaining members of the RPD, deputies with the Clay County Sheriff's Department and two part-time Piggott patrolmen. The Rector Fire Department also responded, and provided manpower for traffic control.
Unofficial reports from the scene, and a video posted on social media, indicated Warbritton fired into the air on at least two occasions, and repeatedly broke windows on the vacant building while shouting at the officers.
The ASP news release on the investigation noted, “As police arrived in the area, the suspect, now identified as Warbritton, reportedly pointed the gun at a police officer who fired his gun at Warbritton.
Warbritton fled the area and led police to the convenience store where officers reportedly attempted to persuade him to drop the firearm. Warbritton, again, pointed his gun at police, prompting one officer to fire his gun. Warbritton was pronounced dead at the scene. Police were not injured.”
Unofficial sources at the scene reported the incident lasted well over half an hour from the time officers were summoned . During the subsequent investigation the highway and street remained closed to traffic, although it was opened once again around 8 p.m.
Warbritton's body was taken from the scene, and was to be sent to the State Crime Laboratory “for purposes to identify the manner and cause of death and collect forensic evidence,” according to the ASP.
They further noted, “Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating the use of deadly force by police. An investigative file will be prepared and turned-over to the prosecuting attorney to determine whether the use of deadly force by police was consistent with Arkansas laws.”
The ASP also referred any further questions concerning the identify of the officers involved, or their administrative status, to the Rector Police Department. As of Friday, Dec. 28, the investigation continued and no further details were available.