What was supposed to be a normal Friday night out for so many bar patrons at Ropers Rockin’ Country changed quickly when witnesses said Bryan Wright arrived and tried to get into the bar.
He was allegedly belligerent, so he was turned away at the door. It was when he returned that things spiraled out of control.
Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker told reporters that officers were called to an accident around 1:17 a.m. in which someone had driven over a curb in front of the bar and started firing shots from inside a truck.
Parker said the person inside the truck, who ended up being Wright, 40, of Petal, was shooting randomly, not necessarily at Ropers. Police told reporters it could have been as many as 20-30 gunshots.
Two HPD officers were already on the scene, Parker said. WDAM-TV’s Ryan Moore reported the officers returned fire.
According to reports from the scene, the suspect appeared to barricade himself in his truck before being taken into custody and being transported to Forrest General Hospital.
Forrest County Deputy Coroner Lisa Klem said Wright was pronounced dead at 4:10 a.m. Saturday at Forrest General. She said the cause of death is pending autopsy.
Both the north and southbound lanes of U.S. 49 were blocked off during the incident, and the patrons of Ropers were kept inside the building until the standoff situation was resolved. They were finally escorted out of the building in a single file line.
The City of Hattiesburg asked motorists to use caution in the area. “Our number one concern is public safety,” its Facebook page stated.
As the sun came up, shell casings could be seen littering the scene and several magazines were also found, which indicated that Wright had reloaded his weapon. Several cars were also kept inside the perimeter because they had been hit by bullets. Reports from the scene showed bar patrons sleeping in the parking lot while they waited for their vehicles to be freed up so they could take them home.
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said MBI is assisting Hattiesburg police in this investigation. Parker said the scene has been turned over to MBI "since it’s one of our officers involved.”
Authorities say there were no bar patrons or law enforcement officers injured in the situation.