Crime

Manhunt ends; 7 arrested after home invasion

Police search for suspects from Monday morning home invasion

Harrison County Sheriffs Department and Gulfport Police search for suspects in a home invasion that happened in the early morning hours of Monday, March 21, 2016.
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Harrison County Sheriffs Department and Gulfport Police search for suspects in a home invasion that happened in the early morning hours of Monday, March 21, 2016.

HARRISON COUNTY -- All seven suspects connected to a home invasion reported Monday morning, when a woman chased off masked men she found in her home, have been arrested, Sheriff Troy Peterson said.

The woman's dog was shot three times outside her home on Pine Forest Road as the three fled, and she was fired at but wasn't struck, the sheriff said.

Harley Beech, 18, of Linda Lane, Gulfport, was the last person sought following an extended manhunt that sent deputies, area police and K9 officers through woods and across creeks. Deputies arrested Beech Monday night after he turned himself in to family members, Peterson said.

Beech faces charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling, aggravated assault and felony animal cruelty. His bond information was not yet available Monday night.

The first two arrested in connection with the home invasion were Adam Lee Kennedy, 20, of Three Rivers Road, Gulfport, and Jonathan Hunter Wesley, 20, of School Road, Saucier.

Deputies arrested Kennedy and Wesley on charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling, aggravated assault and felony animal cruelty. Beech is wanted on the same charges.

Kennedy also faces a charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Both are being held at the county jail without bond.

Daniel Fisher, 22, and Conner Johnson, 19, were each arrested on a charge of hindering prosecution. Their bond is $50,000 each.

Kennedy is held with no bond on a pending charge related to a drive-by shooting, Peterson said.

First report

A manhunt that started early in the morning continued in woods around Allen Road late Monday afternoon.

Peterson said three young people had gone to a home on Pine Forest Road and two of them were inside the house when a woman who lives there walked in on them.

She called 911 at 6:54 a.m.

"We hope the third suspect will just give up," Peterson said. "He must be tired. I know it's worn out all the officers and canines."

At least four other young people were taken in for questioning in the probe, which also led to the recovery of "guns stowed away that were stolen in Moss Point," Peterson said.

Officials said Beech isn't believed to be a threat to anyone.

The home invasion

The woman had been feeding horses and handling other outdoor chores when she noticed something suspicious about her back door, Chief Deputy Ron Pullen said.

"She heard voices inside, went in and there they were," Pullen said. "I guess it startled her and it startled them."

Pullen said the woman grabbed her gun and the men ran out. She then released her dog on them.

"As she saw them running toward woods, they fired a shot fired towards her and her dog was shot," Pullen said. The dog was taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

The sheriff said he met with the homeowner Monday morning but wasn't sure of the dog's condition later in the day.

Manhunt begins

Harrison County dispatchers called for a helicopter at 7:13 a.m. and police from Gulfport and Pass Christian joined in the search.

"The public helped," Pullen said. "Several people called in saying they saw young males jumping fences."

"Officers found a T-shirt in the woods and a dog tracked off that scent to find them."

Within an hour or so, officers found two young females and a car believed to be involved.

"One of the suspects had texted the females and told them to come pick him up in an area off Canal Road," Peterson said.

Kennedy was found at Canal and Robinson roads with the help of a helicopter and citizen reports, Peterson said.

A sheriff's K-9 officer found Wesley in a nearby treeline. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of a dog bite before being taken to jail.

A handgun was recovered, which had been reported stolen in Ocean Springs, Peterson said.

Manhunt resumes

The manhunt appeared to be over until investigators received information indicating a third young adult was involved, Pullen said, and the search resumed along the north side of Landon Road.

Deputies and K-9 teams later headed toward Allen Road, the direction Beech was last seen heading.

Margaret Vaughan of Landon Lake Boulevard said she and her husband had been sitting on their porch drinking coffee about 9 a.m. when their dogs alerted to something and she heard footsteps in the woods. She called deputies, who searched the area but were unable to find anyone. Officers continued to patrol the area.

About four hours later, around 1 p.m., Vaughan's Chihuahua and black Labrador retriever ran into nearby woods, she said.

"I heard footsteps," Vaughn said. "I could see a kid get up. He started high-tailing it."

Vaughn said her husband saw the young man run east across their street and jump two fences. She said it scared her to think he had been hiding out near her property.

At least six K-9 teams from Harrison County and others from Gulfport and Pass Christian participated in the search, which was still underway by 5 p.m.

"We know who he is, we have the arrest warrants and he will show up sooner or later," Peterson said. "I just don't want anyone else to be threatened. I want him in custody."

Homes searched

Just after noon, seven patrol units went to Pine Ridge Park mobile home complex off Orange Grove Road just east of Canal Road.

A woman who lives in the trailer park and didn't want to be identified said she saw deputies search two trailers. She said they removed several weapons from one trailer.

Officials said seven young people at one trailer were questioned at the scene. At least three were taken in for further questioning and a car was towed for possible evidence.

The sheriff confirmed those guns had been reported stolen.

Deputies searched Kennedy's home in the 17000 block of Orange Grove Road and found four separately packaged bags of marijuana with a total weight of about 161 grams and digital scales, Peterson said.

Investigators were told by witnesses that as they arrived, a white male, later identified as Connery O'Bryan Johnson, was observed running out of the rear of the residence carrying firearms.  After detaining Conner Johnson and Daniel Fisher, Investigators located and recovered several firearms and a small amount of marijuana from a neighboring property, the sheriff said.

Later Monday, deputies searched the home of Austin James Parker, 19, in the 18000 block of Pine Forest Road, the same neighborhood in which the home invasion took place.

A search warrant of the residence yielded about 8 grams of individually packed cocaine, digital scales, bags, other assorted drug paraphernalia and approximately $5,000 in cash. All located of the evidence was located in Parker's bedroom, Peterson said in a press release.

Parker faces a charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He is being held in the Harrison County jail in lieu of $10,000 bond.

During the search of Parker's home, deputies came into contact with a 17-year-old male at the house. The juvenile was in possession of cocaine and alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax, Peterson said.

Deputies then obtained a search warrant for the juvenile's home on Houston Ladner Road. There they located four ounces of marijuana, alprazolam and numerous dosage units of LSD in the juvenile's bedroom, the sheriff said.

The 17-year-old was remanded to the custody of the Harrison County Juvenile Court pending an initial hearing per family court procedures.

Wesley Muller, Sun Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.

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