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INFANT, FATHER SHOT TO DEATH

A four-month-old child and her father both died from wounds to the head from gunshots believed fired by the man's estranged wife, authorities said Friday.

Romeo Smith, a 30-year-old electrician and native of Jamaica, lived at Maison D'Orleans, off Beach Boulevard. His baby, Savaan, lived in a neighboring apartment with Simone Dixon, his girlfriend and the mother of the infant.

"He prayed over the baby this morning before he left the apartment," said Dixon. "He was a praying man. The last thing he said to me was, 'Sim, I'll see you later.' "

Dixon, a line cook at Island View in Gulfport, had dressed Savaan in a pink jumpsuit and white headband to accentuate the baby's thick, black hair.

Dixon said she heard a commotion in the parking lot and "a noise like a tire blowing out."

Dixon said she looked out the window and saw Smith's estranged wife, Barbara Starr Smith, getting in and out of his vehicle. Dixon didn't realize her boyfriend had been shot.\

The Smiths had married in 2004 but had separated.

Dixon got ready to leave for work around 6:15 a.m. and buckled Savaan in her car seat. Dixon said she was walking around the car to get in the driver's seat when she saw Barbara Smith coming toward her.

"We didn't have any argument," Dixon said. "She just started shooting at me and I started running. My baby was already locked in the car seat."

The gun was fired at close range, said Dixon, whose neck was grazed and burned from gunpowder residue. Then she realized her baby was missing.

Police said they believe Barbara Smith took the baby, walked to a different parking lot and drove away in a silver 2004 Chevy TrailBlazer.

Police issued an Amber Alert, a national advisory of a missing child, through the National Crime Information Center. Some Biloxi residents received the alert through a recorded phone message.

The message advised residents to be on the lookout for Smith, wearing a black jacket and blue jeans, with a baby in a pink, one-piece outfit, believed traveling toward the 1600 block of Pine Street in the silver SUV.

"We need your help," the message said. "Please check your yard or complex." The message didn't say if Smith was armed.

Police Capt. Darrin Peterson said Barbara Smith, 29, of Vine Street, turned herself in at the urging of friends and relatives. Information given at the police department pointed police to Woodland Towns apartments at 1655 Irish Hill Drive. That's where they found the baby's body around 9:15 a.m. The baby was in the front seat of the TrailBlazer.

"She was happy," Dixon said. "She loved to laugh. I had just taken her for her four-month check-up the day before."

Justice Court Judge Bruce Strong ordered Barbara Smith held with no bond at the Harrison County jail.

She is charged with capital murder with an underlying charge of kidnapping. She also is charged with the murder of Romeo Smith and with aggravated assault.

Police said they want to hear from anyone with information that can be used in their investigation. The police tip line is 435-6159.

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