A Lauderdale County Chancery Court Judge was shot Monday morning outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse.
Judge Charles E. Smith, a Chancellor for the 12th Chancery District of Mississippi and family court judge, was taken to a hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound in his lower abdomen, Meridian Police Lt. Rita Jack said. Police believe one shot was fired, Jack said.
Smith was shot outside of his truck in the parking lot of the east side of the courthouse, she said.
At a county meeting Monday, Chancery Court Judge Larry Primeaux said Smith was out of surgery and was expected to be transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
The Meridian Police Department is investigating the shooting.
Meridian police and Lauderdale County Sheriff's personnel responded to the scene around 7:15 a.m. and closed off 20th Avenue between 5th Street and 4th Street.
There is no suspect or vehicle description and police have not recovered a gun, Jack said.
Police will be reviewing surveillance video.
Several Meridian police and Lauderdale County Sheriff's cars and personnel were on the scene immediately after the shooting.
“Judge Smith is a decent, fair person and he certainly did not deserve this,” said Primeaux, who has known Smith for decades.
"It’s simply a tragedy and it’s something we can’t tolerate in this society, and we really do need to look at what proper security should be for judges and other personnel at the courthouse in Lauderdale County.”
Smith, who took the oath of office in January 2019, served as Youth Court prosecutor from 1983-2014, and as a Lauderdale County prosecutor for more than three years, according to the State of Mississippi Judiciary.
The 12th Chancery District includes Clarke and Lauderdale Counties.