Crime

Would a body camera have identified the man who shot a Harrison County deputy?

Investigators are at the scene of a deputy shooting Friday off East Jordan Road in Harrison County on Friday. The shooting was reported on a dirt road just off East Jordan and Mississippi 605.
Investigators are at the scene of a deputy shooting Friday off East Jordan Road in Harrison County on Friday. The shooting was reported on a dirt road just off East Jordan and Mississippi 605. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

A body camera may have helped identify the man said to have shot a Harrison County deputy last week, but patrol officers don’t have body cameras — at least not yet.

County supervisors in May approved the purchase of 69 body cameras at a cost of a little more than $450,000. The payment will come from drug forfeiture funds.

The body cameras have not come in yet, according to Sheriff Troy Peterson. But if the deputy had a body camera and had turned it on, it would have recorded what the deputy was seeing.

Except for a description by given the deputy, investigators have few clues in the Friday shooting off East Jordan Road.

Evidence gathered at Friday’s scene is being analyzed, but Peterson said no details are being released on the evidence. It remains unclear if the deputy fired back or how many bullet casings were found.

Peterson has said the deputy — who has been with the department for eight years — hit his alert button when he was shot. He later told first-responders a man in a white, 1990s model pickup truck had pulled up behind his bumper, and both got out of their vehicles when he was shot in the upper right chest. The bullet did not pierce his protective vest.

The man sought is believed to be in his 40s, with brown hair, a dark brown mustache and a muscular build. He’s about 6-foot-4 and weighs about 275 pounds. He wore dark jeans with a light shirt and gray garden gloves and was driving a 1990s model white pickup truck with box-like headlights and a box-like front end, with wires hanging of the side of the truck.

To give a tip, call the sheriff’s department at 228-865-7060 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Or give a tip online at mscoastcrimestoppers.com.

Officer shootings are rare on the Mississippi Coast. Friday’s shooting is is the county’s first to injure a deputy since 2003, when Harrison County Deputy Darwin McMahan was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with a man who drew his gun at a hotel off Interstate 10.

It’s also rare for any assaults on Coast law enforcement officers to remain unsolved.

The exception is a May 2015 report of an assault on a Hancock County deputy who reported he was ambushed at a rest stop and used a remote control device on his belt to let his K-9 out of his patrol car. The deputy reported the men ran off into the woods. He was treated for a 2 1/2-inch cut on his forehead. No suspects were ever found. The deputy, Todd Frazier, retired shortly afterward.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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