What was supposed to be a Super Bowl party among friends turned deadly after four or five armed and masked gang members busted through a side door of a home.
In a matter of seconds, an agent with the FBI Safe Streets Task Force said, the party-goers who were gathered around a table playing cards and watching the game were ordered to the floor.
By the time the suspects left the home in an a barrage of gunfire, Fabian Dwight Dailey would be dead and three others shot and injured.
Five men have since been arrested on a capital murder charge in the February attack. They are 20-year-olds Robert “S.J.” Jackson; Darrian Dontae “Kreole K” Cooks; Tykice “Kreole Ty” Laddel Watts; Sirmarrion “SBM” Davis; and Michael Anthony Doss Jr., 22.
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The Sun Herald reviewed transcripts of testimony from Randall Harper, a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, to provide new insight into the high-profile gang-related attack.
The violent armed robbery and home invasion in the otherwise quiet area along Bellview Avenue happened in the one most violent years on record in the city of around 14,000 residents.
Since January, at least six people have died in homicides in the city — compared to a total of six homicides over the previous eight years combined. A number of other residents have been wounded in other violence in the city.
In the aftermath of Super Bowl killing, local, state and federal authorities would join forces and call on residents to help them end the escalating violence.
Early on, Police Chief Brandon Ashley dismissed rumors of Moss Point residents being in danger of a similar attack, saying it was “gang problem” and the home was targeted.
It all started on a brisk February evening in a white brick rental home in the heart of the Jackson County’s River City, just west of the Alabama state line.
The first shot
Only minutes passed after the intrusion before two of the masked men — one armed with a loaded rifle with a wooden stock and the other with a .10-mm semi-automatic handgun — ordered one of the residents down a hallway into a bedroom.
Once in the room, the suspects stole an ounce of marijuana and a cellphone, but then one of the gunman noticed an adult and two minors in an adjacent bedroom playing video games.
The first shot rang out after the adult who was trying to protect the minors attempted to grab a weapon away from one of the intruders.
The adult who tried to intervene suffered gunshot wounds.
Others suffered additional wounds as the masked men went to the leave the home, with the one of the suspects firing a deadly shot at Dailey after the gunman claimed the victim tried grab the gun.
Others suffered gunshot wounds during the gunfire that continued as the suspects ran from the home.
The evidence mounts
As the investigation continued, more witnesses turned to police to report seeing what they believed to be the attackers running to two vehicles — one a red Honda Accord and the other black Nissan Maxima — both backed into the carport of a home directly behind where the armed attack occurred.
By Feb. 23, authorities found one of the victim’s cellphones in a yard directly behind Jackson’s home.
Later, authorities spoke to a man who was trying to get in on the robbery, who said he was told he wasn’t needed.
That same witness, according to testimony, had allowed the alleged gunman, Watts, to borrow a .10-mm glock semi-automatic handgun used in the crime.
According the transcripts, shell casings retrieved as the scene of the shootings matched the ballistics from a .10-mm handgun borrowed from a witness.
Other witnesses, some so-called friends of the suspects, told authorities that Watts admitted he and the other suspects committed the crime.
A phone search and Facebook analysis
In other information in the transcript, the FBI agent explained how authorities did an analysis of Facebook messages between the suspects to track any communication about the crime.
In one such conversation, the agent recalled how Davis warned Watts that law enforcement were bearing down on their investigation.
In the message Davis simply issued a warning to another suspect, telling him to “watch out, the police are hot,” on their tracks.
In the end, federal authorities did a review of cellphone calls between the suspects before and after the crime occurred.
That information revealed some of the suspects were in constant communication before and after the crime, but no traceable communications occurred at the time of the crime.
A push for bond
Despite the new evidence from the investigation, defense attorneys criticized prosecutors and authorities handling the investigation, pointing out authorities were never able to collect any fingerprints or physical evidence to tie any of the capital murder suspects to the crime.
In the latest court hearing Thursday, defense attorneys for three of suspects asked for bonds in the case, though state law general prohibits bonds in capital murder cases.
The defense attorneys argue there is insufficient evidence to tie the suspects to the crime, much less charge them in a capital offense.
Prosecutors pointed out the red Honda seen in the driveway of the vacant home during the armed attack as well as the black Nissan parked in the same area matched the type of cars driven by Davis and Jackson respectively.
Despite the investigative findings, defense attorneys argue their clients should be entitled to a bond pending the outcome of any indictments issued in the capital case.
They also point to a lack of evidence to support the capital murder charges filed in the case.
In the meantime, the investigation is ongoing.
To report information, call the Moss Point Police Department at 228-475-1711 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898. Reward of up to $1,500 are offered for information leading to an arrest in a crime. All calls are confidential.