By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
An off-duty Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper was “performing in an official capacity” as a law enforcement officer when he was shot and killed last month in Hatchie Bottom, according to an affidavit.
Corinth Today obtained the affidavit Tuesday after requesting documents from District Attorney Ben Creekmore, whose jurisdiction includes Tippah County.
It states that the suspect, Troy Anthony Eaton, 43, killed the off-duty trooper, Josh Smith, 32, knowing that Smith was “acting in an official capacity as a Missisippi State Trooper . . .”
The affidavit was signed by Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Agent Paul Moore.
Eaton has been charged with capital murder in the death of Smith and attempted murder for the shooting of another person who received non-life-threatening injuries.
Eaton’s wife, Lori Eaton, released a statement last week saying, “We are unsure about the details of why the altercation started. Anthony was protecting himself and two younger family members.”
Smith died of a single gunshot wound to the head/face. It appears Eaton was sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle when he allegedly shot Smith, who was apparently standing outside the vehicle, according to Tippah County Coroner Chris McCallister.
The shooting occurred in Big Hatchie Bottom about halfway up a steep gravel road near the Waldon Bridge, which is close to County Road 202 in Tippah County. Authorities found Smith deceased at about 12:45 a.m. Sept. 30.
Smith had been a trooper since 2007 and is remembered by many as a family man, dedicated officer and a good person who loved helping others.
Law enforcement from around the state, as well as Gov. Phil Bryant, attended Smith’s memorial service in Corinth.
Eaton grew up around County Road 518 in Alcorn County. Some neighbors of Eaton said he was a hard worker who did roofing projects and various other carpentry work with his dad. Some people in the area have known him since he was a boy and never knew him to be violent.