BOLIVAR, Mo. — Southwest Baptist University is mourning the passing of alumnus Stephen Carr. who died in the line of duty as a police officer in Fayetteville, Ark.
Carr, 27, served as a patrol officer in Fayetteville's Dickson Street entertainment district, an area popular with students at the nearby University of Arkansas. Fayetteville Police Chief Mike Reynolds said Carr was sitting in his patrol car Saturday night when a man approached the vehicle and shot him several times at point-blank range. Police later exchanged gunfire with the suspect near the city's square. He died in the shootout with officers.
Carr worked for the Fayetteville Police Department since April 2017. The department described him as a hero, serving the community with dedication and professionalism.
“While I did not know Stephen, I am grieved by the loss of a Bearcat, especially so unexpectedly,” said SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner. “The SBU family is united in prayer for Stephen’s family during this difficult time.”
Carr graduated in May 2015 with a degree in Economics/Finance. After graduation, he initially went to work for Sam’s Club as a buyer, according to his academic advisor, Dr. Troy Bethards, Dean of the Robert W. Plaster College of Business and Computer Science.
“Stephen was a sharp student and very engaged in his academic experience,” Bethards said. “He took his academics as seriously as his time in football. Whatever he pursued, he was dedicated and did to the best of his ability. We are praying for his family as they grieve Stephen’s passing.”
Carr played for SBU's football program from 2011 to 2014.
“Stephen came in as a highly recruited offensive lineman not just because of his ability, but because of his integrity and character,” SBU Head Football Coach Robert Clardy said. “He faced adversity with injuries in his first couple of years which sidelined him as a player and led him to coach. He was a wonderful young man who worked hard to impact others on our campus and in our community.”
Carr was recruited to play in Missouri from the Houston, Texas area.
"He was going to handle his business on the field. He was always one of those guys who was going to put you on the dirt then help you up," explained Clardy.
His contributions to the Bolivar community weren't just on the football field.
"He was always there to step up and do that. You know, go to the schools and go to the local schools and read, play with the kids, do whatever he could to give back. It didn't surprise me at all that he chose a selfless path, to give back," said Clardy.
As tributes and memorials grow for the fallen officer, the coach said Carr won't soon be forgotten by his family in the Ozarks.
"People are able to remember him and everything he did here, the impacts he had as a man of God and a man of character. He was a special person while he was here. I know he had that same impact when he got to Fayetteville. It's just been very, very tragic loss of someone so young," he said.
Police say they do not know why Phillips shot Carr but that they believe Phillips set out to kill a police officer.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered flags around the state to be flown at half staff in Carr's honor until he is laid to rest Thursday.