Miss. Police Chief Committs Suicide After Investigation Of Selling City-Owned Guns
The Mississippi police chief who killed himself moments after he was suspended had been accused of selling city-owned guns, officials said Friday.
Bay St. Louis Police Chief Mike DeNardo shot himself in the parking lot of police headquarters Thursday after city officials informed him of the investigation and ordered him to hand over his government-issued equipment, said Hancock County Chief Deputy Don Bass.
DeNardo walked outside, picked up a shotgun out of the trunk of the car and fired on himself, according to Bass.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital minutes later. Both Bass and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed DeNardo faced allegations. Bass said DeNardo illegally sold at least one city-owned rifle and possibly other police department weapons.
“The gun supposedly in question was a police weapon, a police rifle, which is not some kind of rogue, illegal assault rifle. I never used the word ‘assault rifle,’ but I suppose a police rifle would be an assault rifle,” Bass told the Sun Herald of Biloxi, which is near Bay St. Louis on the Gulf Coast.
Federal investigators had received “unsubstantiated criminal intelligence” on the seventh-year chief but had yet to open a formal probe, according to an official who spoke anonymously with the Associated Press. The tip arrived only a day or two before DeNardo’s death.
“We had not approached him. We had not confronted him,” said ATF Gulfport field office resident agent in charge Jason Denham. He did not reveal details about the investigation.
The City Council turned over control of the Bay St. Louis Police Department to the sheriff’s office in an emergency meeting Thursday. The department’s Facebook page displayed a black ribbon with a thin blue line over a police badge, and its website had been disabled Friday.
City Councilman Doug Seal said DeNardo was also dealing with a recent personal loss. DeNardo’s mother died last week, and the chief had traveled out of town for her funeral, he said.
“We heard some word on the street of the gun thing, but nothing beyond that. We have not been apprised of anything else. We will deal with it when we know more,” Seal told the Sun Herald.
“No way we could have known what was going on. We’re still trying to figure out what happened. We’re all grieving.”
DeNardo joined the touristy beach town’s department in 2004 after an 18-year tenure in Louisiana with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. His interim replacement will report to the local sheriff’s office.