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Tippah Coroner Releases More Details in Off-Duty Trooper Shooting

The flowers by the tree mark the area where the off-duty MHP trooper was fatally shot in Big Hatchie Bottom. (Photo by Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today)

Suspect apparently in vehicle when he shot off-duty trooper

By Josh Mitchell

Corinth Today News Editor

The Tippah County coroner released Tuesday more details regarding the shooting death of an off-duty Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper.

Tippah County Coroner Chris McCallister said it appears that the suspect, Troy Anthony Eaton, 43, was sitting inside a vehicle on the passenger side when he allegedly shot and killed off-duty MHP Trooper Josh Smith, 32. It appears Smith was standing outside the vehicle when he was shot in the head/face area, McCallister said.

Authorities responded to the shooting in Big Hatchie Bottom near the Alcorn County/Tippah County line at around 12:45 a.m. Sept. 30.

Smith died of a single gunshot wound from a handgun, said McCallister, who transported the body to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Jackson, Miss. He declined to say what type of gun was used.

The preliminary autopsy report is complete and basically states that Smith died of a gunshot wound. McCallister said he may receive a toxicology report at some point.

The shooting occurred about halfway up a steep gravel hill near the Waldon Bridge, which is close to County Road 202 in Tippah County. It was unclear how Smith and Eaton would have arrived at that point or how many other people may have been present when the shooting happened. Eaton turned himself into authorties about five hours later.

Rickie Dale Vick, 38, of Michigan City, was also shot and transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Hatchie Bottom is known by locals as a place where people mud ride, socialize and possibly drink.

Eaton has been charged with capital murder and attempted murder.

Smith’s life was honored last week in a memorial service held at the Crossroads Arena in Corinth. Many law enforcement officers from across the state as well as the governor and lieutenant governor were at the memorial service to honor Smith, who was remembered as a loving husband, caring father and dedicated trooper.

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