GULFPORT -- A man wanted on felony charges in Baxter County, Ark., was captured Thursday morning after a crime spree in Gulfport that involved armed crimes at two businesses, a home invasion, armed robbery, kidnapping and the theft of a vehicle.
Police Chief Leonard Papania said the crime spree started about 4:59 a.m. when an alarm sounded at Academy Sports in The Crossroads Center at U.S. 49 and Interstate 10.
Police believe Michael David Hamilton II, 34, of Yellville, Ark., had hidden in the store's stock room overnight, avoiding discovery by the cleaning crew. He apparently tripped the alarm as he left.
Papania said Hamilton stole several items including clothing, firearms and ammunition and fled the store on foot.
While officers were at the store, police dispatchers received a call of a home invasion at The Campgrounds of the South at 10506 Three Rivers Road. Papania said Hamilton forced his way into a recreational vehicle and demanded food while pointing a rifle at the occupants. Hamilton again fled on foot and burglarized another RV while officers were searching the area, Papania said.
About 6:25 a.m., police were called to Channel Chemical Corp. at 14373 Seaway Road, where Hamilton allegedly committed a robbery at gunpoint, duct-taped employees and stole a truck from the parking lot.
After police sent out Hamilton's description and information to area law enforcement, Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said a deputy assigned to U.S. 49 and Interstate 10 spotted Hamilton driving past.
Hamilton was arrested without incident in the parking lot of the Robinwood One Stop in Saucier.
"(The deputy) spotted the truck coming through, got behind it and followed it on up," Brisolara said. "(Hamilton) pulled over to get fuel and when he got out of the truck and went around to get fuel, that's when the officer got him."
Officials said Hamilton is wanted in Arkansas on charges alleging he attacked several people early Sunday morning while he was a guest at their residence.
Baxter County sheriff's Capt. Jeff Lewis said he's unsure what caused the incident, but Hamilton "lost it," ripped the electric meter off, tore the telephone lines out and began attacking others in the home with a metal pipe.
According to the arrest warrant, Hamilton woke up his hostess to tell her the power was off and he needed a flashlight. The warrant said Hamilton beat the woman with a pipe several times on her back. After she locked herself in a bathroom, the warrant said, Hamilton attacked her boyfriend, who suffered two fractured arms and a broken jaw.
Hamilton then allegedly attacked a couple in another bedroom but they climbed out a window and hid in woods. The couple later called for help from a neighbor's house.
One victim described the weapon Hamilton used as a
41-inch galvanized pipe with duct tape wrapped around one end "as if to fashion a grip," the warrant said.
Lewis said Hamilton stole a wallet, credit cards and a 2007 Dodge truck and left the house. The four victims were treated at a hospital, he said.
Lewis said authorities learned Hamilton has a history of mental instability. Lewis also said the people Hamilton attacked were not strangers.
"Some of the people he had known for 20 years," Lewis said. "He just flipped out."
In Arkansas, Lewis said, Hamilton is facing charges of aggravated robbery, theft, first-degree battery and three counts of second-degree battery.
Hamilton is being held at the Harrison County jail on bonds of $700,000 set by Justice Court Judge Melvin Ray. The charges are commercial burglary, residential burglary, armed robbery, auto theft, possession of stolen property and two counts of kidnapping. He is held without bond on a fugitive charge.
Gulfport police Sgt. Damon McDaniel said it's unclear where Hamilton was in the days between fleeing Baxter County on Sunday and being apprehended in Gulfport on Thursday. McDaniel said it's also unknown what brought him more than 500 miles to the Mississippi Coast.
The investigation is ongoing.