On 11 December, the Jonesboro Police Department received a call reporting that a person shot at 607 Gladiolus, E building. Officers responded and found the victim, a 41-year-old Jonesboro resident, Dennis Mardis, shot multiple times. Officers, who were on scene within minutes began to attempt to talk to the suspect, Rhonda Thomas, 56 of Jonesboro, and attempted to negotiate for several hours.
The victim, a maintenance employee of the apartment complex, was responding to the apartment to check the wellbeing of the suspect, as she had not been heard from in some time. While attempting to enter the apartment, Thomas fired several times, striking Mardis multiple times. Mardis was later airlifted from the scene to the Memphis trauma center.
Officers of the police department’s crisis negotiations team took over negotiations, but got no response after hours of attempts at negotiation. With fear for the safety of other tenants and no response or surrender from the suspect, a decision was made to introduce chemical munitions in another attempt to get Thomas to surrender. Thomas took measures to counter act the chemical munitions and stayed in the apartment with no response to renewed negotiation efforts.
With no response, K9 officer Gabo was deployed in an attempt to get Thomas out of the apartment, but she immediately began shooting at Gabo. Officers then had to enter the apartment and Thomas began firing on the officers, at which point the officers had to use lethal force. Tactical medics and ambulance crews on scene immediately rendered aid and Thomas was transported to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead. The body will be sent to the Arkansas State Medical Examiner’s Office.
The scene and investigation were turned over to the Arkansas State Police who will conduct an investigation.