Hazlehurst officer who discovered son shot and killed reflects one year later

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - January 3 marked the one year anniversary of a Hazlehurst police officer finding her own son shot and killed while on duty.

Laquandia Cooley’s world turned upside down the night she found her son Charles Stewart Jr. dead. As a result, her family has been working to find peace in the horrific situation.

”To this day. Even though it’s been a year and two months, it’s still unbelievable,” Cooley said.

In utter shock and disbelief, Hazlehurst Police Officer Laquandia Cooley sat down with us just hours after finding her 20 year old son, Charles Stewart Jr. shot and killed while she was on duty.

Following the death, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation took over the case. But little has been uncovered since.

“MBI is working the case, but they’re so busy with officer-involved shootings. It’s just a process. I want some closure for my son’s case because to me, it’s just not right. Our town is too small for nobody to know anything,” Cooley explained.

Since then, Stewart’s family has done everything they can to honor his life; from visiting his graveside often to dedicating their accomplishments to him.

“My son, he was a football player for Hazlehurst High School and he had to go through this emotional time during football season. He dedicated his whole senior year to his brother and he played the best football he could play. He got recruited to southwest Community College where he got a full ride,” Cooley said.

Cooley said while trying to process the horror she saw, she took a step back from law enforcement.

“The shooting happened and so I couldn’t just be a police officer.”

But it’s not going to be forever, especially since Cooley said Stewart was her cheerleader.

“I’m not going to step away from a career but you know, until my son’s murder is solved, I’m just taking a break from this. When I come back as I’m coming back strong, coming back strong, because you know, he wanted me to follow my dreams,” Cooley explained.

Cooley said she remains hopeful that the person responsible for her son’s death will be brought to justice.

If you have any information that could help investigators, please contact MBI.

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