November 23, 2020

Quick-thinking Mississippi deputy plays possum to trick gunman he was dead

A Mississippi sheriff’s deputy is being lauded for his quick thinking which, along with a bulletproof vest, may have saved his life during a Friday shooting and standoff.

Marshall County Sheriff’s deputy Daniel Tatum was pursuing 33-year-old Randy Vaught, when Vaught shot the deputy multiple times, Sheriff Kenny Dickerson said.

Tatum was wounded in the arm, shoulder and leg, media reported. He then played dead hoping the gunman wouldn’t shoot him more.

“But as it turned out, the suspect did in fact approach him — and him lying there helpless — and shot him several more times in the chest area,” Dickerson said.

Tatum’s bulletproof vest protected him from what potentially would have been fatal shots. By continuing to play dead, Tatum likely convinced the shooter he was dead, avoiding additional shots being fired.

“That’s what, without any question, saved his life,” the sheriff said at a news conference. “No doubt in my mind and unequivocally had he not had that vest on he would have expired immediately.”

Vaught killed himself in the standoff. Dickerson says Vaught was out on bond for statutory rape at the time.

He says deputies saw Vaught and two passengers leaving a suspected drug house that day and pulled them over, but Vaught fled and led authorities on a car chase to his mother’s house.

Dickerson says the passengers were taken into custody and Vaught dashed into the house while pursued by Deputy Daniel Tatum. He says Vaught shot Tatum and barricaded himself in the home. Tatum’s expected to recover.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.