New Orleans Officer Killed In Alleged Mask Dispute Died a 'Hero,' 'Saved Lives'

Tributes have been paid to the New Orleans police officer shot dead while intervening in an alleged dispute over masks during a high school basketball game.

Tulane University Police Officer Martinus Mitchum was shot and killed on Friday while working at George Washington Carver High School in the 3000 block of Higgins Boulevard.

Mitchum, a Tulane University police officer who was also a reserve deputy 2nd City Court constable, was working security detail at a George Washington Carver High School basketball game when the shooting occurred.

John Shallerhorn, 35, has been arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and first-degree murder of a policeman in connection to Mitchum's death.

Shallerhorn is accused of arriving at the high school on Friday and robbing a 39-year-old man sitting in a vehicle in the parking lot. Shallerhorn is then alleged to have attempted to enter the school, but was stopped for not wearing a mask.

An altercation then broke out between the suspect and a school staff member.

Mitchum overheard the disturbance and attempted to remove the suspect from the school. As they got close to the front door, Shallerhorn is alleged to have pulled out his weapon and fired at Mitchum in his chest.

Mitchum was taken to University Medical Center New Orleans, where he was later pronounced dead.

Friends of the officer have now paid their respect to the 38-year-old.

"I feel like Mitch saved lives last night because we don't know what that gentleman really was coming in there to do. There was kids in there, families in there. What could you be going into a high basketball with a gun?" Jason Bertrand told KXAN.

Wanto Joseph added: "Mitch would keep kids that needed him around him, and I always wondered why kids would gravitate to him, and that's because he was always there for them."

Nate Roach, a coach at George Washington Carver High School, tweeted: "Martinus 'Mitch' Mitchum is a hero. My condolences to his family."

Law enforcement officials have also paid tribute to the slain officer.

"We are deeply saddened by the senseless and tragic death of TUPD Corporal Martinus Mitchum," Tulane Police Chief Kirk Bouyelas and Patrick Norton, Chief Operating Officer at Tulane University, said in a joint statement.

"Corporal Mitchum was a dedicated police professional who had a heart of service for the Tulane community. We have reached out to his family and are providing support to his fellow officers during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with all the fellow officers with whom he served."

Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman tweeted: "The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office mourns the loss of the deputy constable killed tonight in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the 2nd City Court Constable at this difficult time."

Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office has been contacted for an update on the investigation into Shallerhorn.

 Tulane University
Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tulane University Police Officer Martinus Mitchum was shot and killed while providing security at a high school basketball game. Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty