NATIONAL NEWS

Mississippi jail escapee surrounded, believed dead

Apr 26, 2023, 5:15 AM | Updated: 10:16 am

This booking photo provided Jackson, Miss., Police Department Dylan Arrington, one of four Mississi...

This booking photo provided Jackson, Miss., Police Department Dylan Arrington, one of four Mississippi prisoners who escaped from the Raymon Detention Center over the weekend. He is now a suspect in the Monday night, April 24, 2023, murder and carjacking of Anthony Watts, 61, in Jackson, Miss. (Jackson Police Department via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Jackson Police Department via AP)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Authorities hunted Wednesday for four inmates, including one suspected of killing a man and stealing his pickup truck, who escaped over the weekend from a Mississippi jail that has been under federal scrutiny.

Leake County Sheriff Randy Atkinson told WJTV-TV that the suspect in the killing, 22-year-old Dylan Arrington, is believed to be dead after he barricaded himself inside a burning home near Conway, Mississippi, Wednesday morning.

The suspect shot a deputy from within the home, the Leake County Sheriff’s office said in a statement on their Facebook page, adding that the deputy was transported to a hospital where he was stabilized.

“The situation continued for roughly two hours before it was resolved,” the office said. No further explanation of what that meant was given in the statement.

Multiple law enforcement agencies were searching parts of the state, with the Leake County Sheriff’s Office telling residents to “please keep your doors locked and have no keys or weapons in your vehicles.”

The U.S. Marshals service and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are among the agencies assisting in the search.

Police said Anthony Watts, a 61-year-old church pastor, was shot and killed Monday night around 7 p.m. on Interstate 55 in Jackson after he pulled over to help a man who had wrecked a motorcycle. That man shot Watts several times and then stole his Red Dodge Ram, police said. Watts died at the scene.

The suspect in that shooting fit the description of Arrington, said Jackson Police Chief James E. Davis.

Arrington is one of four prisoners — along with Casey Grayson, Corey Harrison and Jerry Raynes — who escaped Saturday night from the Raymond Detention Center, a facility near Jackson, through breaches in a cell and the roof. Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones said the men might have camped out on the roof before fleeing the facility and going their separate ways.

The four were in custody for various felony charges, most involving theft. Arrington had charges of auto theft and illegal possession of a firearm, WAPT-TV reported.

Watts’ stolen Red Dodge Ram, which has tan trim and Cowboys stickers on the front and the back, was last seen heading south on I-55 in Terry, Mississippi, police said.

Jones said one of the prisoners stole a Hinds County Public Works vehicle that was later recovered in a suburb of Houston. Investigators also believe a stolen Chevy Silverado is connected to the escape. Other than reports of Arrington’s possible death, none of the other men had been located as of Wednesday morning.

In July, a federal judge ordered a rare takeover of the jail after he said deficiencies in supervision and staffing led to “a stunning array of assaults, as well as deaths.”

Seven people died last year while detained at the jail, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said. Reeves wrote in his ruling that cell doors did not lock and a lack of lighting in cells makes life “miserable for the detainees who live there and prevents guards from adequately surveilling detainees.”

He also said guards sometimes slept instead of monitoring cameras.

But just days before the appointed receiver was scheduled to assume control over the jail on Jan. 1, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the lower court’s order until it ruled on the county’s motion for reconsideration.

The court was to examine whether the lower court’s injunction complies with the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a 1996 federal law that places restrictions on lawsuits brought by prisoners.

Attorneys for the county said the receiver would not be accountable to voters and taxpayers.

Hinds County Sheriff Jones said in December that county officials were committed to fixing the issues at the jail, many of which stem from staffing shortages.

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