No charges will be filed in Monday night’s fatal shooting at an intersection in a residential area, Police Chief Leonard Papania said.
The shooting was over a dispute about the price of $20 for cocaine or crack cocaine in an argument that started in North Gulfport, he said.
“Due to the determined facts of this case, the homicide is being treated as an act of self-defense and no charges are being filed,” Papania said at a press conference Tuesday.
A woman called 911 at 9:29 p.m. to say a man in her car had been shot at 25th Street and Roberts Avenue and she was taking him to a hospital, Papania said.
Phillip Dwayne Kennedy, 37, died at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.
Investigators interviewed witnesses and collected evidence at the intersection and the hospital, Papania said. The intersection is about two miles east of downtown.
Investigators identified the other man and brought him to the police station Tuesday morning. They learned both men were armed, Papania said.
‘An act of self-defense’
“Kennedy and this adult male had engaged in an illegal-drug sale sale in the North Gulfport area,” Papania said.
Investigators learned the men had stayed in contact by phone, he said, and had met up near the intersection to resolve the dispute.
“Kennedy was perceived to be acting in an aggressive and menacing manner, which caused the other adult male to be in fear of his life,” Papania said.
Papania said the man shot Kennedy, and Kennedy fired at least once at the other man; a stray round, believed fired by Kennedy, hit an occupied home.
Kennedy’s body was taken to the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory in Pearl for an autopsy.
“The killing,” Papania said, “was not over something a normal person would consider valuable or reasonable.”
Papania said prior police contact with both men makes him believe both have been involved in illegal drug activity.
Kennedy had been released from jail Sept. 6 on a $100,000 bond on charges of aggravated assault and residential burglary. The charges involved his arrest by Gulfport police July 25. The case had been turned over to a grand jury, the Harrison County jail docket shows.
The name of the other man has not been released.
‘Get right or get gone’
“Once again, we’re seeing the ill effects of a criminal subculture — two men disputing over what we determined to be $20 and a life has been taken,” Papania said. “This is why it’s so important our citizens continue to work with us.”
“I go on and I go on about the criminal subculture and the effects of it. This is it. This is it. They were disputing over $20 worth of drugs and it escalates into the use of firearms and a death.”
Papania said he believes the Gulfport Police Department “is top-notch” and said residents are working with police.
“You don’t get these quick solves when people turn their backs on you,” he said. “We need to continue to be vigilant. It’s just a small few who are making it difficult with these crimes.”
Papania had this message for that criminal subculture: “Get right or get gone.”
When the investigation is completed, the case file will be given to the District Attorney’s Office, which will decide if a grand jury should review it, the chief said.
The last fatal shooting in Gulfport was about a month ago when Chandler Pugh was shot and killed in the parking lot of a convenience store on Pass Road on Aug. 10. Peter Julius Henderson, 30, of Theodore, Alabama, was arrested on a murder charge in Pugh’s death.
This is the ninth shooting death in Gulfport in 2016 and Papania said it’s the ninth homicide solved.