Crime

Three Biloxi officers on leave after police shoot man on bridge

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Officer-involved shooting In Biloxi

Biloxi police shot a suspect on the Popp's Ferry Bridge after responding to a report of a man with a gun.
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Biloxi police shot a suspect on the Popp's Ferry Bridge after responding to a report of a man with a gun.

BILOXI -- Three Biloxi police officers have been placed on administrative leave with pay because of their involvement in the fatal shooting of a Biloxi man Thursday, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said Friday morning.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove said Wesley Sheppard, 37, died at the scene after 8 p.m. Thursday. Hargrove would not say how many times Sheppard was shot.

According to Sheppard’s LinkedIn profile, he worked for Hospital Housekeeping Services as the director of housekeeping at Merit Health Biloxi. He was a native of Jacksonville, Fla., and attended Florida State University.

Biloxi police shot and killed him on the Popp’s Ferry Bridge after motorists reported seeing a man with a gun.

Miller said the three officers involved in the shooting, along with other officers, went to the bridge in response to calls from drivers about 8:25 p.m.

Gulfport police and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office also provided assistance.

It is not yet clear how many shots police fired or whether Sheppard fired any shots.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation, though Gulfport police investigated the crime scene, Miller said.

Popp’s Ferry Bridge was closed for several hours but was reopened about 11:30 Thursday night.

MBI spokesman Warren Strain said Sheppard’s body is at state medical examiner’s office in Pearl for an autopsy, tentatively scheduled for Friday.

Strain also declined to say if Sheppard fired any shots.

“Until we are 100 percent sure of what went down, we won’t say anything,” he said. “The investigative interviews have to be conducted. The autopsy is pending. Until they determine the whole sequence of events, we will reserve comment.”

After the MBI concludes its independent probes, the findings will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office in each district. A grand jury ultimately determines if any criminal wrongdoing occurred.

Thursday's shooting is the third officer-involved shooting so far this month.

On Tuesday, D'Iberville police shot at an 18-year-old who pointed a rifle at an officer. D'Iberville Police Chief Wayne Payne said the teen was attempting "suicide by cop." The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun.

A week before, Gautier police responding to a domestic violence call killed a man in a shootout after a two-hour standoff. The man had been on probation for a drug charge until 2012.

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