Vest saves deputy as he fakes being dead; gunman takes his own life

MARSHALL COUNTY, Miss. – A bulletproof vest saved a wounded Mississippi deputy when he was shot twice more in the chest by a gunman who approached him as he acted like he was dead from prior gunfire.

Deputy Daniel Tatum was wounded Friday in Marshall County after being shot in the arm, shoulder and leg by a man who later killed himself after a four-hour standoff. Tatum then played dead on the ground hoping he wouldn’t be shot in the head, Marshall County Sheriff Kenney Dickerson said Saturday.

“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.

As a result, the sheriff said the vest stopped two rounds from further traumatizing the deputy.

“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.”

Randy Vaught, 33, was the person who shot Tatum during an incident that began when Tatum spotted Vaught and two friends leaving a drug house and pulled them over, according to the sheriff.


Randy Vaught, 33, killed himself after shooting a deputy and barricading himself in a home for four hours Friday. (Marshall County Sheriff’s Office )

After the stop, Vaught sped off when he couldn’t produce a driver’s license and then drove to his mother’s home, WREG-TV reported. He ran into the home as his friends ran off. Later they told officers they had used meth before Tatum stopped them.

Dickerson said Tatum was shot initially when he tried to follow Vaught into the home through the back door.

Fortunately, he was rescued after being shot by other deputies who were arriving on scene.


Over the next four hours, Vaught barricaded himself in the home, refusing to surrender as he posted apologies to his family on Facebook and promised to surrender, according to the station.

At around 10:30 p.m. that standoff came to an end when Vaught emerged, kneeled down and shot himself in the head, Dickerson said.

Meanwhile, Tatum underwent surgery at a Memphis hospital, the station reported. His condition was undisclosed.

“He was very, very lucky,” Dickerson said. “But you know that type of incident happens in law enforcement and every day life and you know you have to deal with them and you have to deal with them in a fair way and not violate anyone’s rights.”

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