Family of firefighter shot & killed responding to EMS call begs to keep killer in prison

Firefighter Jason Adams, 29, was killed in 2016 responding to a call of a man having a seizure when the man he was gunned down by the man he was apparently trying to save. (Photo: Sherwood Fire Department)

The family of a Pulaski County firefighter gunned down in the line of duty pleaded with the Arkansas Parole Board on Wednesday to keep his killer behind bars.

According to jail records, Mark Pruitt, 49, is eligible for parole in June. Pruitt had pleaded guilty in March 2017 to a manslaughter charge in the death of Jason Adams, 29, and sentenced to eight years in prison.

It was a snowy day in January 2016 when Adams, a volunteer firefighter with the East Pulaski Fire Department and lieutenant with the Sherwood Fire Department, responded to a call for a man having a seizure at a home in North Little Rock. The man reported to be having the seizure was Pruitt.

Pruitt would end up shooting and killing Adams, telling investigators that he believed Adams was an intruder instead of a first responder.

"The only reason my son took that call that morning - we had the heavy snow - and his remark to his fiancee was 'it's just right around the corner," recalled Phylis Stroud, Adam's mother. "Why should somebody else get out and be put in danger to go to this call?' - that's why he got out, because he was always thinking of other's safety first before his own."

A mental evaluation obtained by KATV later showed that Pruitt was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the incident. Doctors diagnosed Pruitt with cocaine-use disorder and PTSD. Pruitt took a plea deal before heading to trial, but now he's up for parole nearly a year after being sentenced.

"He's not been in jail for a year," said Carrie Adams, Adams' grandmother. "I don't think he's served his sentence like he should."

Adams and Stroud begged the parole board to deny Pruitt early release. Adams' step-grandfather got choked up at the podium and couldn't give his own statement.

Stroud said her son's death came not soon after her daughter's death, saying they barely had time to grieve her death. Now Stroud says her family has barely had any time to grieve her son's death before having to beg to keep his killer behind bars.

"I'll never get to spend Christmas or birthdays with either one of my children again - never," cried Stroud. "I will be here fighting every time he's out for parole; I will be here to try to keep him in even if it's just one day longer."

Pruitt was supposed to go before the parole board on Tuesday, but his hearing has been differed for another 30 days since his attorney couldn't be at the meeting. Parole Board Chairman John Felts told Adams' family there won't be a decision made on Pruitt's parole application until after his hearing.

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