Coach: Late detective was active parent
The tragedy of a Jackson homicide detective’s fatal shooting has reverberated throughout the state down to the borders of Lincoln County at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
Many have come forward to praise the many merits of the late detective, Eric Smith, who was shot and killed Thursday, allegedly by a suspect he was interviewing.
Those fondly remembering Smith include Dennis Sims, formerly Co-Lin’s head basketball coach until his resignation last month.
Smith’s son, Eric Smith Jr. is currently finishing his freshman year at Co-Lin where he plays forward on the school’s basketball team. His younger brother Quentin is a senior at Clinton High School.
Sims will be leaving Co-Lin but was still in his office Friday and took a few minutes to speak by phone.
He coached Eric Smith Jr. on the 2013 team and recalled his first meeting with the young man’s father during a recruiting trip to Clinton High School.
“I remember talking to [Smith] in the bleachers,” he said. “You could tell he was a very sharp man; he cared very much about his son in every stage, not just athletics.”
The elder Smith stood out to Sims as the kind of parent he values.
“From a coach’s standpoint, you couldn’t find a better parent than Eric,” the 17-year, veteran Co-Lin coach said. “He instilled real values in his son.”
The elder Smith would attend practices when he was able, and Sims described a conversation at one of those meetings that stood out to him.
“He told me [Eric Jr.] is not going to get it if you are easy on him,” Sims recalled. “He appreciated what I was doing.”
Sims continued on a sorrowful note.
“You hear people say ‘the Lord took him too soon,’ and he definitely did in this case,” said the coach. “He was a great guy.”
The latest reports by the Associated Press indicate Det. Smith was interrogating Jeremy Powell at the Jackson Police Department Thursday when Powell allegedly overpowered Smith, took the detective’s gun and shot him four times.
According to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Powell then shot himself in the head.
Powell, 23, was being questioned about a man’s stabbing death, reported the Associated Press.
In addition to his two sons, Smith is survived by his wife, Eneke, a sergeant with the Jackson Police Department.