Bay St. Louis, Mississippi police chief Mike DeNardo killed himself moments after he was suspended for selling city-owned guns, officials said Friday. DeNardo shot himself with a shotgun retrieved from the trunk of his car in the parking lot of police headquarters Thursday. City officials had reportedly just informed him of the investigation and ordered him to hand over his government-issued equipment. DeNardo illegally sold at least one city-owned rifle and possibly other police department weapons.
“The gun supposedly in question was a police weapon, a police rifle, which is not some kind of rogue, illegal assault rifle. I never used the word ‘assault rifle,’ but I suppose a police rifle would be an assault rifle,” Hancock County Chief Deputy Don Bass told the Sun Herald of Biloxi.
Federal investigators had reportedly received a tip only a day or two before DeNardo’s death, but had yet to open a formal probe into the seventh-year chief.
“We had not approached him. We had not confronted him,” said ATF Gulfport field office resident agent in charge Jason Denham.
DeNardo was also dealing with a recent personal loss, as he had reportedly traveled out of town for his mother’s funeral last week.
“We heard some word on the street of the gun thing, but nothing beyond that. We have not been apprised of anything else. We will deal with it when we know more,” Seal told the Sun Herald. “No way we could have known what was going on. We’re still trying to figure out what happened. We’re all grieving.”
DeNardo joined the touristy beach town’s department in 2004 after an 18-year tenure in Louisiana with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. His interim replacement will report to the local sheriff’s office.
Some are speculating whether the tragedy indicates the city-owned gun is just the tip of the iceberg.