PASCAGOULA -- Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd will not be submitting his resignation as chief law enforcement officer of the county, his attorney, Joe Sam Owen, said Wednesday.
The news comes after speculation this week Byrd might be stepping down amid an ongoing grand jury investigation with links to the sheriff and others who work for him.
"Whatever the next step in the process is, we just have to deal with it," Owen said.
Byrd came under fire in July 2012 when a shooting at the office of the Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County went unreported. Then-Cmdr. Jackie Trussell was later indicted on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault for firing a shot at the feet of another deputy, resulting in an injury. No paramedics were called to scene. Byrd did not initially disclose information on the shooting.
In addition, Byrd has been sued by several people, including two doctors and former Ocean Springs Alderman James Hagan. Hagan claims Byrd targeted him and others for arrest.
A grand jury report filed this week and in recent months shows more than 20 deputies and sheriff's administrative staff have testified before the grand jury, which is expected to reconvene sometime this week.
Grand jury meetings are secret, so District Attorney Tony Lawrence can't discuss what is going on in the meetings. A grand jury is composed of residents who hear evidence in a case and decide if sufficient evidence exists to issue an indictment.
Lawrence has, however, confirmed in court records his office has investigated the actions of Byrd's office as it pertains to the Hagan arrest.
In his suit, Hagan claims improper search and seizure, witness tampering, perjury, false arrest and falsifying sworn affidavits and search warrants.
Byrd left his office Monday and did not return during the day. Media camped out Tuesday and Wednesday, after being notified of a press conference that didn't happen. The situation at the Sheriff's Office has led to a growing unease and concern in the community.
County officials were waiting with everyone else this week to see if Byrd's absence from his office signaled any major change.
County Supervisor John McKay said, "No one knows exactly what's going on. It lends itself to different interpretations. And often those are misunderstood and misdirected. We have to wait to see what the issue is and until then, everything is speculation."
One woman in her 60s from Moss Point told the Sun Herald she stayed glued to the television Tuesday night for any update on the sheriff.
A 69-year-old Pascagoula woman buying a paper at a convenience store early Wednesday was looking for the latest news on Byrd.
She said she's lived in Pascagoula since 1964 and has known or had friends who knew Byrd most of that time.
She said he thinks he's "tougher than a bullet," but she's afraid things that have happened in the last two years of his administration have somehow caught up with him.
"I just wish we all knew what was going on today," she said.
Neither woman wanted to be identified by name.
A businessman who lived in Ocean Springs and has known Byrd for years said the situation with Byrd "has been the focus of chatter for several weeks and certainly there has been a noticeable increase in talk yesterday and today. It's on the forefront of everyone's mind.
"I think more than anything right now, there's a lot of rumors. Then you hear something else that just negated the rumor you just heard."
Byrd was re-elected to his fourth term in 2011. His term expires in 2015.
Karen Nelson, Sun Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.