Crime

Man killed in Biloxi shooting identified. Officer who fired the shot is now on leave.

Police investigate a fatal officer-involved shooting on Wednesday. It's the first officer-involved shooting in Biloxi since March 10, 2016.
Police investigate a fatal officer-involved shooting on Wednesday. It's the first officer-involved shooting in Biloxi since March 10, 2016. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

A man shot and killed Wednesday by a police officer has been identified as 61-year-old Vincent Dronet.

Dronet died of a single gunshot wound to the head in the shooting on Popp’s Ferry Road, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said Thursday.

The shot was fired when Dronet tried to use his truck to strike an unmarked van driven by a police officer, Biloxi Police Maj. Christopher De Back said after the shooting.

The officer who shot Dronet is on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation, Chief John Miller said Thursday. State law says administrative leave must be with pay “unless it’s obvious that a criminal act took place,” he said.

According to initial reports, officers were pursuing a shoplifting suspect who had fled from Home Depot in a maroon Dodge Ram pickup just before 8 a.m. Officers tried to stop the truck again when a fight reportedly ensued and an officer tried to deploy a Taser before the driver fled again.

The officer in the unmarked van had heard police dispatches and was in the area so he responded to the pursuit and was on Popp’s Ferry at Camp Wilkes Road when the truck tried to hit the van, De Back said.

The pursuit from Home Depot to the shooting scene covered a distance of about two miles.

Initial police reports indicated more than one shot was fired. De Back said he can release no further details now that the case has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

MBI typically conducts an independent investigation in shootings involving an officer.

“It’s always difficult when something like this happens,” Miller said.

“It’s always terrible. It leaves behind a grieving family and affects so many people.”

MBI investigations are turned over to a grand jury for a review, and it often takes a few months for a grand jury to rule on a case.

The name of the officer who fired the shot is being withheld until the grand jury rules on the case.

The last time a shooting involving an officer happened in Biloxi was March 10, 2016. A Harrison County grand jury took four months to clear three officers of wrongdoing in the death of Wesley Sheppard, 37.

Sheppard had shot out the window of a car with children inside, police said. His weapon turned out to be a BB gun, but police said he refused repeated orders to drop the weapon.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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