BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said Bay St. Louis Police Chief Mike DeNardo was relieved of his duty and city issued equipment before shooting himself in the chest Thursday afternoon.
Mayor Les Fillingame says DeNardo was suspended without pay Thursday pending an investigation by the sheriff's department.
"We were here to assist the City of Bay St. Louis and their mayor to escort Chief DeNardo from the office and obtain his city issued equipment. At that time, it just kind of went bad, I guess," said Adam. "The mayor called him in. He asked us to come and ask for his equipment. My guys were there, and that's it."
DeNardo shot himself in the parking lot of the Bay St. Louis Police Department and was rushed by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, but did not survive.
"You know, it's difficult for a police officer when he is relieved of his duty, so maybe that played into it," Adam said.
In an hour-long, closed door executive meeting Thursday evening, the Bay St. Louis Council unanimously voted to temporarily turn control of the police department over to the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Officials confirm that Bay St. Louis Lieutenant Wes Mayley will assist the sheriff with administrative issues.
Mayor Les Fillingame told WLOX New Now's Hugh Keeton that the sheriff offered to step in to help, mainly to give police officers a break to process the shooting, and have time away if needed. Fillingame says everyone agreed that the temporary move was best.
At this time, there is no word on why DeNardo was being investigated. On Good Morning Mississippi when WLOX News Now reporter Doug Walker asked Fillingame about the investigation, he said "it had nothing to do with his duties as Chief of Police; it was something that was being done outside of the city. The evidence was compelling enough that the sheriff and his investigators felt like we needed to suspend Mike." Fillingame also said "No charges were filed. Just the very initial phase of an investigation."
Parker added, "At this point, it would be inappropriate to talk about it. Our condolences go out to his family for the loss."
People around the city are in shock over what happened outside the police department on a quiet Thursday afternoon.
"Shocked. He's my good friend. I'm shocked that this happened," said former city attorney Don Rafferty.
DeNardo had served as the city's top cop since 2010.
"The whole thing is just tragic," said Fillingame. "Mike was a tremendous public servant, very well liked. I'm almost in a state of disbelief about the outcome."