NEW: The fugitive who killed the marshal was "extremely dangerous," U.S. Marshals Service director says
Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells, 28, died after trying to arrest Jamie Croom
"Before he'd go back to jail, he said, he'd rather be dead," Croom's sister says
The man suspected of killing a deputy U.S. marshal at a motel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has died, Brittany Stewart in the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office said Wednesday.
The cause of death is pending autopsy, she said.
Jamie Croom, 31, was wounded in a shootout with Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells.
It can be one of the most dangerous tasks for a law enforcement officer: serving an arrest warrant to a fugitive murder suspect. When Wells tried to do that Tuesday, he lost his life.
“Wells was part of a team executing arrest warrants on a fugitive wanted for double homicide in Baton Rouge,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a news release. “The team engaged in gunfire with the fugitive and Wells was shot. He was immediately transported to Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary, Louisiana, where he died.”
Wells, 28, was trying to arrest Croom, who is suspected in the deaths of a brother and sister in New Roads, Louisiana, CNN affiliate WAFB said.
“Our deputies and law enforcement partners face untold dangers every day in the pursuit of justice in cities nationwide,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia A. Hylton said in a news release. “The fugitive who killed Deputy Wells was extremely dangerous, wanted for double homicide and intentionally evaded justice. … When a public servant dies in the line of duty, it is an immeasurable tragedy felt by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Wells’ family, friends and colleagues.”
Officials would not elaborate on exactly what happened, but The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge said there was a shootout. Authorities said Croom shot and killed Wells at a Baton Rouge motel.
Wells, 28, was based in Mississippi but was on temporary assignment in the Baton Rouge area, the Sun Herald newspaper said. He was married and came from a law enforcement family.
Despite the risks, Wells loved his job.
“It was his passion,” longtime friend Alex McGee told the paper. “I tipped my hat to him because he knew the dangers and wanted to do the job anyway.”
Suspect’s sister: ‘He said he wasn’t going back to jail’
Croom, the suspect, was taken to a hospital after he was wounded, WAFB said.
He was wanted in the shooting deaths of the two siblings in February and was also on probation for firearms charges.
That double homicide stemmed from a feud over a loan made to one of the victim’s relatives as well as an alleged break-in at the suspect’s grandmother’s house, Croom’s older sister Latonia Croom Duncan told CNN.
Duncan said the family reported threats and a shooting at her grandmother’s house to police, but said there was never any follow-up.
She said her brother called her the night of the homicides, which took place at a nightclub.
“He called me and said he loved me and that he’d be gone,” Duncan said. “He said he wasn’t going back to jail. Before he’d go back to jail, he said, he’d rather be dead.”
CNN’s Devon M. Sayers, John Newsome, Sam Stringer and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.