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West Memphis Neighbors Praise Police For Arrests In Forrest City Officer's Murder

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - As loved ones and friends pay their respects to a murdered off-duty police officer in West Memphis, Arkansas, his neighbors and police praised each other for their role in arresting his two wanted killers. 

The suspects, Demarcus Parker and George Henderson, both appeared in court Friday morning.

West Memphis Police say Parker and Henderson fired into a group at a West Memphis apartment complex April 28th and drove off. Investigators said Parker drove the car and Henderson fired the stray bullet that killed Forrest City Police Officer Oliver Johnson while he played with his children inside his apartment.

Officer Johnson's visitation was held Friday. At the apartment complex where the 25-year-old father died, there's relief about those arrests but lingering outrage about that crime.

“We want everything to be peace and quiet, we want the violence to stop,” said Mariah Smith.

Bullet holes and shattered glass remain outside the West Memphis apartment where Officer Johnson died nearly two weeks ago. Mariah smith heard the shots, and locked her doors.

“It's sad, I mean, it could have been me, it could have been anybody,” said Mariah Smith.

“Inside his home and then a lot of kids standing out, anybody could have gotten shot,” said Wanda Smith.

Before the shooting last month, West Memphis Police had offered Johnson a police officer position.

“I met Mr. Johnson one time, seemed like a really, really great guy, the community felt the same way from all the information that was generated,” said WMPD Capt. Joe Baker.

While scared, witnesses in this complex also stepped forward with hundreds of tips in the aftermath of this deadly drive-by shooting. Those eyewitnesses helped West Memphis police zero in on suspects Henderson and Parker.

Investigators said Parker and Henderson are no strangers to shootings and gang activity. Investigators said the men, both in their 20s, have gang ties and rap sheets.

“These are two guys who have kind of terrorized the community over here,” said Capt. Baker. “Both have had their share of involvement as a suspect or a victim in a criminal activity.”

More tips are needed in more unsolved cases in this community. A recent study using FBI data ranked West Memphis number 10 in the nation's '100 most dangerous cities'.

“When they do come forward and cooperate with us, we can make a difference in removing some of these criminals from the street,” said Capt. Baker. “The willingness of witnesses to cooperate with us in these cases, it's absolutely essential to make these cases.”

“It's getting out of hand with crime these days, people just don't care, you know,” said Vincent Williams. “There's a lot of unsolved murders, unsolved rapes, stuff like that, that the community need to help out with. These people don't care about each other no more these days, you know, it finally shows that people finally do have some kind of humanity left.”

Parker appeared in West Memphis Municipal Court Friday morning, and he's being moved to circuit court on no bond.

George Henderson was arrested Thursday in Memphis. He appeared in Shelby County court and will be extradited across the river in the coming days.

The funeral service for Officer Oliver Johnson will be held noon Saturday at First Baptist Church in West Memphis.

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