Officers across South Mississippi were searching Friday for a man who shot a Harrison County deputy who had pulled over in the shade on a dirt road to fill out some paperwork off East Jordan Road.
The deputy, whose name has not been released, was shot in the right upper chest by a man who pulled up behind him in a white pickup truck, Sheriff Troy Peterson said. The man, who wore garden gloves, got out of his truck and the deputy got out of his patrol car, and the man shot the deputy with a handgun and drove away.
The deputy was not seriously injured, but why it happened is unclear.
The deputy managed to hit his alert button, Peterson said. The bullet did not penetrate his protective vest, which “ultimately saved his life,” he said.
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“Everything that he was supposed to do, he did right,” Peterson said.
The bullet left a six-inch bruise on the deputy’s chest, the sheriff said as he met with the media near the scene. Peterson said the deputy was flown to a USA Medical Center in Mobile, where doctors could determine if he has internal injuries or broken bones.
The deputy was released from USA later Friday.
“He’s just sore,” Chief Deputy Ron Pullen said.
East Jordan, a heavily wooded area, runs parallel to Mississippi 605 and is just north of White Star Road. The dirt road is just south of East Jordan, and right off the highway.
Get the word out on suspect
The suspect is described as a white man in his 40s with gray hair, a strong build and a mustache, between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5 and 250 to 300 pounds.
He was wearing dark jeans and gray garden gloves, driving a older model white truck, possibly with wires hanging off the side. The truck has box-like headlights and a box-like front end, and may be a 1990s model Ford or a Chevrolet.
“We want everybody to get the word out,” Peterson said.
To give a tip, call the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department at 228-865-7060 or call your nearest law enforcement office. Or give an anonymous tip to Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Crime Stoppers offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Investigators also want to know if convenience stores on 605 or Mississippi 67 have video of the man and the vehicle, Peterson said.
The deputy had been checking the area before he pulled over. The sheriff said it’s not unusual for deputies to find a spot to park while they do paperwork, he said.
The first person on the scene found the deputy conscious and laying by his patrol car.
The deputy provided some information but details are “foggy,” Peterson said. Investigators will be interviewing him, Peterson said.
Harrison County deputies do not yet have body cameras.
Be on the lookout
The sheriff’s office issued an alert to all law enforcement agencies from District 8, composed of agencies from Stone County to George County and south to the beach.
The Biloxi Police Department’s crime-scene unit was gathering evidence later Friday as the heat index topped 100 degrees.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation will take the lead in the investigation. Peterson said his office always calls for another agency to investigate an officer-involved shooting.
MBI and police departments from Biloxi, Gulfport and D’Iberville met at the scene. State troopers and Harrison County Fire Services also were on scene.
A sheriff’s helicopter circled the area for hours in search of the suspect.
Crime scene tape was stretched across the dirt road for several hours.
The officers fanned out around the area, parking near side roads and intersections, checking for the described vehicle. Deputies directed traffic, preventing northbound travel on 605 just north of White Star Road.
“Every agency on the Coast is helping us,” Peterson said.
Staff writer Jeff Clark contributed to this report.