7/5/10 – TG: Arkansas State Police investigator, Sgt. John Bishop, retires

Texarkana Gazette
July 5, 2010
By: Jim Williamson

Arkansas State Police investigator retires

When the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound raid started in Fouke, Ark., State Police Sgt. John Bishop had to call 911 to get help.

Bishop was already in Fouke prior to the raid where search warrants were served Sept. 20, 2008. He noticed several of the children and a couple of vans were gone.

As a state police investigator, Bishop doesn’t think “like a choir boy” and suspected the children had been escorted out of the Alamo compound by Alamo followers.

“All I knew, I could see they had fled the compound. I followed a hunch and went north of … (state Highway) 549 when I saw 30 carloads of officers headed to the compound. It was the dog and pony show coming and I took off north,” Bishop said, who retired from the state police last Wednesday.

“It was my case and I called the major and the captain for permission and told them I was leaving the compound to find the kids.

“I ran that Durango as hard as it could go. I ran it 110 mph and caught the two vans about one-half mile from the state line. I had a Department of Human Services attorney with me. She was 23 years old and her eyes were wide open,” Bishop said.

He was unable to contact other law enforcement agencies by police radio and resorted to calling the 911 dispatcher for “backup” on the Durango’s hands-free cell phone.

Supervisors in the raid finally “turned loose” a couple of officers to get to the location where Bishop had stopped the van and served as “backups.”

The two vans were carrying 17 children and four adults.

He describes the arrest of Alamo, his conviction and being sentenced to 175 years in prison as a “successful conclusion.”

Alamo was convicted for bringing young girls he would marry as children across state lines for sex.

When the Alamo investigation started, Bishop was the only state police agent assigned to it. Later, other state police agents joined in the investigation.

He worked on the case for six years and assisted FBI Agent Randall Harris, who retired earlier this year.

The investigation required Bishop to be flown to Connecticut to interview a child bride. As one woman cooperated, additional victims started coming forward.

The lifestyle is hard to comprehend for Bishop.

“It’s hard to imagine people are out there with no identity. They were scared to come forward to law enforcement. Kids were not in public schools and didn’t have birth certificates. They have no Social Security cards. It was completely foreign to what we normally work,” Bishop said.

In October 2008, Bishop received the Outstanding Officer of the Year Award, along with Special Agent Scott Clark and Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Franky McJunkins. The awards were presented by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

The award stems from a March 12, 2008, homicide investigation. McJunkins, Clark and Bishop went to a mobile home in Hempstead County in search of suspect Fred Moore. The officers had gone to Moore’s residence to question him about the death of Donald K. McGee of Evening Shade and about the disappearance of McGee’s pickup.

As Clark and McJunkins entered the mobile home, they noticed opaque, plastic sheeting hanging from the ceiling, which prevented them from seeing either end of the mobile home.

As the officers searched the interior, Bishop kept watch on the rear of the home from the outside.

“When they reached the rear master bedroom, a man’s voice told them in explicit language to leave the mobile home immediately,” said Lt. Glenn C. Sligh, Arkansas State Police Company C criminal investigation division commander.

The officers drew their weapons and retreated to a place of cover while telling the man they were complying with his request.

Before Clark could get back under the plastic sheeting, the man stepped out from his hiding place and was armed. He fired one shot, striking Clark in the right arm.

Clark fell back under the plastic sheeting and told McJunkins he was hit.

Both officers “returned suppressive fire in the direction of the rear master bedroom where Moore had retreated,” Sligh said.

Bishop heard the initial confrontation inside the trailer and entered the home as Clark was shot. Though wounded, Clark returned to his vehicle, retrieved another weapon and went back inside the home to assist the other officers.

Bishop ordered Clark to leave the weapon with him and get out of the mobile home.

Sligh arrived at the mobile home as shots were being fired. Some projectiles went through the side of the home, causing shrapnel to strike Sligh’s vehicle.

Sligh noticed Clark was wounded, ordered him to get into his car and drove to the Hope hospital.

Bishop and McJunkins secured the scene until other officers arrived. They determined the suspect had been killed in the exchange of gunfire.

Bishop was nominated for “stepping into the line of fire to protect a fallen officer,” Sligh said.

“While securing the scene, Sgt. Bishop remained calm and in remarkable control, using his cell phone to call for additional investigative units to respond as he held his weapon in the direction of the threat, not knowing if Moore was still a potential threat,” Sligh said.

Sligh nominated Clark for “bravery and perseverance under fire and his willingness to return to the scene after being wounded to protect his fellow officers,” and his “presence of mind to see what needed to be done under extremely stressful circumstances and his ability to communicate to responding officers.”

Sligh said McJunkins, “as a result of his professionalism and bravery … placed himself in harm’s way to assist a fallen comrade, allowing the wounded Clark to exit the home.”

Bishop and ASP Special Agent Hays McWhirter also received commendations for their investigation into a double homicide in Miller County in February 2005.

The murder investigation by Bishop and McWhirter resulted in the arrests of five people. The officers assisted Miller County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation into the deaths of Billy Drumm III, 22, and Patrick Dickey, 21.

Squirrel hunters found the bodies of Drumm and Dickey inside a burned vehicle on private property near Doddridge. The victims had been burned beyond recognition and had to be identified through DNA at the state crime lab in Little Rock.

However, Bishop and McWhirter showed fear of a snake during an assignment in Northwest Arkansas in 1985 while serving on the state police SWAT team.

The assignment was to keep a house under surveillance during a night shift. Officers with night-vision goggles had to escort Bishop and McWhirter to the site and then leave them without flashlights.

The officers laid down on the ground to stay out of sight.

Bishop laid down on his back and on top of a snake.

“He just laid down on the snake and then got it and threw it toward me. The rest of the night, I was wondering where the snake was. We didn’t have flashlights and couldn’t see where the snake was,” McWhirter said.

“I gave him a royal cussing all night on why he threw the snake toward me,” he said.

On Bishop’s retirement, Sligh said, “I hate to lose him. It will be impossible to fill his shoes. It will be hard to replace his experience, if not impossible.”

In: 2010

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