Man killed in shootout with Harrison County narcotics agents had a violent past

Ernie Lizana
Ernie Lizana Gulfport Police Department

A man sought in a woman’s shooting has been killed in an exchange of gunfire after shooting at narcotics agents as he tried to flee, Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said.

Ernie Lizana Jr., 49, fired at narcotics agents as he was leaving a vacant home on 23rd Avenue at 28th Street early Monday, Peterson said. It happened about 20 minutes after midnight Sunday.

Lizana fired first, Peterson said, and officers returned fire, striking Lizana several times.

Lizana was sought on an aggravated assault charge that accused him of shooting a 32-year-old woman in the throat early Saturday on 33rd Avenue. The neighborhood is between 20th and 21st streets.

Gulfport police said the woman was in the front yard with a gunshot wound to her neck when officers arrived. She was flown to a New Orleans hospital, and her condition is considered serious, Police Sgt. Clayton Fulks said.

The sheriff’s narcotics investigators and members of the Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team went to the house on 23rd Avenue late Sunday after receiving information that Lizana was there, Peterson said.

They saw him running from the house when he started firing at them, Peterson said.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove pronounced Lizana dead at the scene, Peterson said.

Lizana, a felon, had been known for years to fight police and run from them, according to previous news reports and officials’ statements.

He was convicted of embezzlement and possession of cocaine from arrests in 2009 and 2013.

Lizana had escaped from jail several times since 1998, according to Sun Herald archives. He escaped twice in a three-month period in 2000.

His prior arrests include aggravated assault on a police officer, domestic violence, and possession of marijuana and meth. Most recently, he served 10 days in the county jail on conviction of simple domestic assault.

He also was accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend in April 2016.

Lizana was accused of rape in 2007, when Harrison County deputies went looking for him at the wake for his deceased grandmother, a Sun Herald report shows. Deputies’ visit to a funeral home drew criticism from some of the family members.

The investigation has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, with the District Attorney’s Office assisting.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews