Jackson County

Murder suspect, victim shared troubled history

The man accused in Monday's shooting death and the man he allegedly killed shared a troubled history, according to published reports.

Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler identified James Allen Brooks Jr. of Pascagoula as the victim of the shooting.

Brooks, 46, was shot about 12:50 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of Calvary Christian School, Meridian police Detective Dareall Thompson said.

Joseph Lee May, 47, of Meridian, was arrested on charges of murder and using a deadly weapon on educational property. Thompson said May confessed to the shooting.

Police said May was working at Calvary Christian when his ex- girlfriend came by to drop off their children. Thompson said there was an altercation, and May shot Brooks, who was the girlfriend's current boyfriend, killing him. Police believe the shooting stemmed from an ongoing feud between the men.

"From my understanding, it's been going on back and forth between the ex-boyfriend and new boyfriend for a while," Thompson said.

A June 24 article in The Meridian Star documented the history between the two men.

On June 23, Brooks was charged with kidnapping after allegedly locking himself and four children -- aged from 3 to 9 -- in a trailer off Whipoorwill Road.

Brooks had been keeping the children while their mother was at work, Lauderdale County Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun said at the time.

Calhoun said the mother reported she tried to contact Brooks, but he wouldn't answer his phone after he failed to pick her up from work. The woman contacted law enforcement to help her find Brooks, he said.

Brooks came back to the trailer during the night, where he locked himself and the children inside, police said.

"We spent over an hour talking on the PA, calling his phone and got no response," Calhoun said at the time. "The mother finally got a call from one of the children and we gave the children directions to exit the house, and Brooks came out with them."

Before the children were released from the house, May, who is the father of two of the children, said he was about to get involved in the situation.

"I wanted to get him (Brooks), I promise I did," May said at the time. "I started to kick the door in, but the authorities came and took care of it. I am just so glad the children are OK."

May was not employed by Calvary Christian School, but was working in the school while students were out for the Thanksgiving holiday, said David Sellers, the church's interim pastor.

May waived his initial hearing Wednesday before Municipal Court Judge Robbie Jones. He remains in custody at the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bonds totaling $150,000. May's initial bond on the murder charge was set at $250,000 but was reduced to $125,000.

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