Police ID man found shot to death in parking lot of Ocean Springs hotel

Nicky J. Johns
Nicky J. Johns

The man sought in a fatal shooting outside an Ocean Springs hotel on Labor Day was on the Coast with the victim, police Capt. William Jackson said.

Nicky Joe Johns, 37, of Columbia, Tennessee, is sought on a murder charge in the slaying of a man found dead in the Travelodge parking lot on Monday.

Police on Tuesday identified the victim as Christopher B. Rochelle, 37, also of Columbia.

Johns and the Rochelle were not registered guests at the hotel, Jackson said.

“At this time, we have no clue what they were doing here,” he said.

Police received a call of a dead body in the Travelodge parking lot about 4 p.m. Monday. The hotel is on Bienville Boulevard, about one mile east of the Biloxi Bay Bridge.

Officers found a man face down in the parking lot with what looked like a gunshot wound to the head, Jackson said.

Investigators were gathering evidence at the scene when the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Ocean Springs Police Department with a tip. A woman at a convenience store in the county had called deputies to report she had information about a possible murder in Ocean Springs, Jackson said.

Police interviewed the woman and identified Johns as the suspect, he said. No details have been released on how the woman had knowledge of the slaying.

Investigators believe Johns may be traveling in a newer model blue Ford Taurus. He is listed on the National Crime Information Center as a suspect wanted on a murder warrant.

Johns is a felon now wanted on a probation warrant, according to Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Alison Rangaard.

Johns is a little more than a week from completing his probation. He was sentenced Sept. 13, 2016, for evading arrest in Tennessee. He received a one-year prison term suspended for one year of probation, Rangaard said.

Ocean Springs police are asking that anyone with information on Johns’ whereabouts to call the Ocean Springs Police Department at 228-875-2211 or Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898.

An autopsy of the victim is pending.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews