Crime

Fake cop ‘probably intended to kill’ retiree so he wouldn’t testify, official says

Christopher Neeley May
Christopher Neeley May

A man accused in the capital murder of a retiree near a Lakeshore boat launch has received bonds totaling $1.2 million.

A preliminary hearing for Christopher Neeley May, 37, of New Orleans, is set for July 11 in Hancock County Justice Court.

Sheriff’s investigators say May impersonated an officer early Wednesday and stopped 68-year-old Clifford Burke of Waveland before shooting and robbing him. It happened on Pleasure Street near Lakeshore Road just north of a popular boat launch. Deputies were notifed at 5:40 a.m.

May has been held at the Hancock County jail since his arrest late Wednesday.

Justice Court Judge Desmond Hoda set bonds Thursday at $1 million on a capital murder charge and $100,000 each on charges of armed robbery and impersonating an officer.

Capital murder, punishable by death or life without parole, is a killing that occurs during the act of another crime.

Armed robbery is the underlying cause for the capital murder charge, Hancock County Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said.

“(May) probably intended to kill him so he couldn’t testify against him,” Grannan said.

“If a man dies on the spot, a dead man doesn’t speak.”

He said the men did not know each other.

Burke, who went fishing every day, was hauling his boat toward the water just before sunrise. After the shooting, he flagged down a passerby and described what had happened and also gave a description of the suspect and a white Ford Crown Victoria with blue police lights to a responding deputy, Grannan said.

Burke died of a gunshot wound at Memorial Hospital of Gulfport, County Coroner Jim Faulk said.

Investigators say they believe May shot Burke before he robbed him of about $40, and fired a second shot before he drove off. Burke had wounds in the side and chest near his neck.

“It was a crime of senseless stupidity,” Grannan said. “(May) exhibited very extreme, extreme indifference to human life.”

May has a criminal background, Grannan said, but details weren’t immediately available.

Evidence in the case will be presented at the July preliminary hearing, also considered a probable-cause hearing. If the judge agrees with testimony and evidence, the case will be sent to the next grand jury.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

What to do if you’re not sure it’s a real officer trying to stop you

If you honestly believe you haven’t broken a law, and the officer seems to appear out of nowhere, you have a right to be suspicious. Here’s what to do:

  • Turn on your blinker to show you intend to pull over, and drive slowly but don’t stop until you reach a well-lit public place with other people around.
  • If you choose to pull over immediately, keep your doors locked and crack your window wide enough to pass your license and registration through the window. If the officer doesn’t allow you to examine a badge and credentials, tell the officer you’re concerned for your safety but will follow him/her to the nearest police department or sheriff’s department. You can call 911 as an added safety precaution.
  • But if the “officer” begins to act unreasonably, such as banging on your door, think about putting your car in gear and driving off. Call 911, give a dispatcher your location and stay on the line until help finds you.
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