Sex offender accused in armed robberies of women

John Richard Strickland
John Richard Strickland

A convicted sex offender was arrested Monday after two women reported they were robbed at gunpoint, Police Chief Wayne McDowell said.

The manhunt for John Richard Strickland, 33, ended after police and K-9 teams searched for him for 1-1/2 hours, McDowell said.

“He was recently released from prison,” he said.

Strickland was convicted of rape in Harrison County on Oct. 28, 2002. The rape occurred in 2000. He also has two other felony convictions.

The first armed hold-up Monday was reported about 11:30 a.m. from Richards Avenue. A woman was working in her yard and came around the side of the house. She said she saw a man with a gun who demanded money. The woman gave him some money she had in her pocket and went inside her house to get more, McDowell said.

Police were setting up a perimeter when they learned a woman had reported an armed robbery in her yard on Reed Avenue. The woman told police a man asked for a bottle of water and then demanded money. She went inside to get him some cash, McDowell said.

Manhunt through neighborhoods

Police and K-9 teams from the Gulfport Police Department searched neighborhoods and area woods and caught him about 1 p.m.

They found him on Lewis Avenue.

“He was sitting under a carport,” McDowell said. “He’d already run out of his shoes.”

He declined to give the women’s ages.

Police arrested Strickland on one count each of armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon.

One of the women who reported she was robbed couldn’t identify the man in a photo lineup, McDowell said. The investigation is ongoing, he said.

Strickland was booked at the Harrison County jail.

Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner set his bond at $300,000.

Held on probation warrants

Strickland isn’t eligible to bond out of jail. He is held for the Mississippi Department of Corrections on three probation warrants.

The warrants include the rape conviction and two convictions from an arrest in 2001. His other convictions were burglary and simple assault on a law enforcement officer, the county jail docket shows.