Workers at a downtown pawn shop say they fired shots at a robber who then found himself being shot at by police on Monday night.
The man walked into 24 Hour Quick Cash & Pawn with a sledge hammer and said he wanted to look at TVs, said a pawn shop employee who gave only his first name, John.
Pawn shop workers didn’t think anything about the man coming in with a sledge hammer Monday afternoon because the shop buys tools, he said. John said he followed the man to the TV section.
“But we didn’t make it that far back. He stopped immediately at the guns and smashed a glass cabinet with the sledgehammer and grabbed a gun and started running.
“We let off about four rounds and then we heard about three more rounds coming back to us,” John said. “I assumed he was shooting back at us.”
John said he hadn’t been worried about the man firing at them with the stolen gun.
“The gun had a gun lock on it,” he said.
Police Chief Leonard Papania has said the man “was armed and the officers engaged in gunfire” when officers found him.
It’s unclear whose shots wounded the man, identified as Anthony Moody.
‘He was shot from behind’
Moody sustained two gunshot wounds, said his attorney Michael Crosby.
“He was shot from behind, with one bullet shattering his arm and the other in the back through the abdomen,” Crosby said.
Moody has mental issues but is not a violent person, Crosby said, describing him as “somewhat childlike, so I find it extremely hard to believe that Anthony would have had possession of a gun.”
Moody had surgery on an arm Tuesday morning, he said.
It first appeared that Moody was running from someone who shot him, Crosby said.
“It may not have been police that shot him,” he said.
No other injuries have been reported.
Crosby said a different man showed up at his office Tuesday with a car that had a bullet hole through a window and a bullet in the backseat floorboard, where his son had been sitting just before Monday’s shooting. The man had parked in front of a barber shop across from Crosby’s office to take his son to get his hair cut, he said.
The man told Crosby that police were aiming guns in the direction of his vehicle when a bullet pierced his window.
Crosby said he called the District Attorney’s Office to report the evidence and the DA’s Office sent a police officer to collect the bullet for evidence.
Questions remain surrounding the shooting.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Capt. Johnny Poulos, spokesperson for the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, declined to answer questions, saying they are part of the investigation.
The police chief has said officers responded to a call of a disturbance about 4 p.m. Monday at the Gulfport Public Library in the 1700 block of 25th Avenue, also known as U.S. 49.
He has not explained what the alleged disturbance was about.
Papania said officers saw a man matching the description given from the library incident, and saw the man run into 24-Hour Quick Cash & Pawn near 21st Street. The two-story business has the words “We pawn jewelry” painted on its yellow-sided building.
The man left the pawn shop quickly, he said.
Samuel Bacote was working at One Call Paul Barber Shop nearby when he heard two shots fired.
“I heard pow, pow,” Bacote said. “I said this can’t be fireworks.”
Bacote said he looked out the window and saw a man limping and running north. Bacote ran outside, and said he heard police tell the man to surrender. He saw police draw weapons, but said he heard no further shots and saw the man fall in the median of the divided highway.
Moody apparently ran a total of about four blocks before he fell. It’s unclear if police used a Taser on him.
Another man, Thomas Ginn, said he was parked in a van on 20th Street near the pawn shop. Ginn said he heard five or six shots and then saw police arrive and an ambulance drive off.
Police closed several blocks of the highway during the investigation Monday night.
Papania said police notified the District Attorney’s Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which will be the lead investigative agency, a standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting.
It’s unclear if police have recovered a firearm or if Moody faces charges.
“There is no new information in regards to the 25th Avenue incident,” Gulfport police Sgt. Clayton Fulks said Tuesday.
Coast police routinely refer questions on shootings with officer involvement to MBI. The state agency typically turns over its findings to the District Attorney’s Office, which decides whether to present the findings to a grand jury.
Sun Herald photojournalist John Fitzhugh contributed to this report.