BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. - There is a growing memorial for Chief Michael DeNardo in the lobby of the police department he led for the past 6 years.
Thursday, the Bay St. Louis, Mississippi lawman died of a self inflicted gun shot in the Bay PD parking lot. He had just been suspended pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
The lead investigator for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office confirmed DeNardo is accused of selling one city owned assault rifle.
Sheriff Ricky Adam said investigators were looking into other possible wrong doing as well.
"Not only was it Bay St. Louis Property, and that’s what I’m going to say, Bay St. Louis Property, police property, but we were also looking at him for fraudulent payroll," Adam said.
Thursday night, sheriff’s investigators served a search warrant at DeNardo’s home.
"There were, I can tell you multiple weapons were taken from his home," Adam said. Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said the city is fully cooperating with the DeNardo investigation.
"We weren't privy to the investigation at all until Wednesday, when investigators came in with some pretty compelling evidence that something happened outside the city," Fillingame said.
Despite the allegations, Fillingame ordered flags on city property to be flown at half-staff. He said he did so at the request of DeNardo's fellow police officers.
"What was presented to us, even as serious as it was, was not in our minds, enough to create the tragedy that transpired," Fillingame said.
People in the Gulf Coast beach community are just now processing that tragedy involving the popular police chief.
Those who knew him like restaurant owner Neil Farve say they will remember DeNardo for his service to the city, not the circumstances surrounding his death.
"He’s done a lot for Bay St. Louis," Farve said. "I would hope that’s the way he’s remembered. He will in my book."
Barber Howard Pickens said DeNardo was a good person and will be missed.
"Who knows what's going on inside a person's head," Pickens said. "We were friends. Every time I think about it, I can feel myself welling up."
As this investigation unfolds, Sheriff Adam expects to release additional details next week about the sale of city owned property in the city of Bay St. Louis.
"There are some fine folks who work at Bay PD," Adam said. "We’re not going to say there’s other people involved there. It could be people not within the police department."
Sheriff Adam said the allegations against Chief DeNardo came as a result of a 3 month investigation that started with tips, phone calls and anonymous letters.
(© 2016 WWL)