The victims of a double homicide just after midnight Wednesday appear to have been targeted in the attack, Police Chief Leonard Papania said.
They were identified as Maxwell Phillips, 31, of Gulfport, and Brooklyn Alsobrooke, 18, of Sweeny, Texas, during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The man and woman “were the intended victims” in what Papania described as a “violent attack.”
Police found Phillips and Alsobrooke after responding to a report of shots fired at around 12:15 a.m. in the 3000 block of 8th Avenue, just off Pass Road across from Central Elementary School.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
When police arrived, they found Phillips dead of gunshot wounds just outside the blue duplex where he and Alsobrooke had been living together.
Prior to the killings, Phillips had been arrested on previous charges of human trafficking. In one of the human trafficking cases from Harrison County, his alleged victim was identified as a 17-year-old girl from Sweeny, Texas.
Police would not say whether Alsobrooke was the victim in one of the human-trafficking cases against Phillips.
However, Papania said, there is no evidence suggesting the human trafficking case was related to the killings, though the investigation into a possible motive is ongoing.
Papania said officers have worked nonstop conducting interviews. He is encouraging residents to report any tips to police.
New details in Gulfport machete killing
So far in 2019, four people in Gulfport have died in homicides, all in February.
On Sunday, Gulfport resident Frederick Plummer died after he was assaulted by a machete-wielding suspect, since identified by police as 44-year-old Eli Martinez Medina.
Police are searching for Medina, considered armed and dangerous, in Plummer’s killing that occurred in a wooded area off 26th Avenue.
They are also searching for Lila Darlene Lizana, 42. Initially wanted for questioning, Papania said police have issued a warrant for her arrest on a charge of accessory after the fact to murder.
In another homicide, Demeatrius Blakley, 31, was shot to death in a Feb. 17 killing near 43rd Avenue and 11th Street, about a block from Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.
That case and the others remain under investigation.
Anyone with information in any of the cases should contact the Gulfport Police Department 228-868-5959 or you can remain anonymous by contacting Crimestoppers at www.mscoastcrimestoppers.com or calling 1-877-787-5898.