October 20, 2020

Community pours out heart, prayers for wounded law enforcement officer

Do you want to know what happens when a law enforcement hero gets shot in the line of duty?

The community the officer swore to serve and protect pours out its heart with love, prayers and remembrances.

Walter J. Mackel, a Natchez, Mississippi, native, was seriously wounded Thursday while trying to locate an armed robbery suspect in neighboring Vidalia, Louisiana. The suspect exchanged gunfire with Mackel, who reportedly killed the assailant.

After being stabilized at Merit Health Natchez, Mackel was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson where surgeons worked on him Thursday afternoon. His wife reported on social media that he was improving, but would be in the hospital for several more days.

“I want to thank God for holding my husband in his hands today,” Pamala Mackel wrote Thursday night. “Doctors have explained just how blessed he is considering the bullet entry and how severe this could’ve been.”

The community Walter Mackel serves also feels blessed to have Mackel and many other brave, dedicated law enforcement officers serving them.

Mackel, who has a rare combination of toughness when necessary, but a love for life and others that makes his wide smile known all over the Natchez and Vidalia, Louisiana area, was practically born into the law enforcement community.

The son of a longtime Natchez Police Department officer, Mackel served as a Navy Corpsman for the U.S. Marine Corps for approximately seven years before returning home and working in law enforcement.

In that time, he’s arrested bad guys, helped countless citizens in distress and garnered the favor and affection of thousands of residents with whom he’s come into contact with.

He’s rescued abandoned puppies, children and even wrangled an alligator recently while on duty.

Last year, while simply enjoying a day in New Orleans with his family, Mackel spotted a man running from two New Orleans police officers, hopped out of his car in the middle of traffic and helped run the man down.

Since news broke of his being shot, literally thousands of residents have been spreading promises of prayers and good thoughts to Mackel and his family.

Among the most poignant are the ones for whom they literally owe Mackel their lives.

“Please pray for my hero and friend Walter J Mackel who was shot in the line of duty today,” Natchez resident Courtney Taylor wrote on Facebook Thursday. “Walter, a former Navy Corpsman, was the first responder to my house when I suffered sudden cardiac death. He was key to my survival. Mine is one of many lives that Walter has saved. He is a gift to this world.”

“Nothing but God!,” wrote Nikole Bacon. “This fella will go above and beyond for anyone and would make sure you(‘re) good!”

“When I heard earlier he was alert and talking all I could think was, ‘OF COURSE HE IS!’One. Tough. Dude.” wrote Kate Foley Feltus. “If you didn’t know before, surely you know now just how loved and respected you are in the Miss-Lou and beyond Walter J Mackel. Thank you for your service my friend.”