Gun violence in US: Gunman kills 6, including ex-wife, in Mississippi

A lone gunman killed six people Friday, including his ex-wife and stepfather, in multiple locations in a tiny rural community in northern Mississippi, the sheriff said, leaving investigators looking for leads motivating the shocking shooting spree. Armed with a shotgun and two handguns, 52-year-old Richard Dale Crum opened fire at around 11 a.m. killing a man in the driver’s seat of a pickup truck parked outside a supermarket in Arkabutla, near the Tennessee state line in Tate County was said Sheriff Brad Lance.

Deputies were working at the scene when a second 911 call alerted authorities to another shooting several miles away. When they arrived at a house, they found a woman, whom the sheriff identified as Crum’s ex-wife, shot dead and her now-husband wounded.

Lance said the deputies caught up with Crum outside his own home and arrested him. Behind the residence, they found two artisans shot dead – one on the road, another in an SUV. In a neighboring house, they discovered the bodies of Crum’s stepfather and his stepfather’s sister.

“Everybody has crimes, and from time to time we have violent crimes, but certainly nothing on that scale,” Lance said in an interview. He added, “Without being able to say what triggered it, that’s the scary part.”

Crum, 52, was jailed without bail on a single capital murder charge and Lance said investigators were working to bring additional charges. It was not immediately known if Crum had an attorney who could speak for him.

That initial murder charge related to the killing of Chris Eugene Boyce, 59, the man who was shot outside the store. Boyce’s brother was in the truck with him at the time and fled, according to the sheriff. Lance added that Crum chased the brother through a wooded area before escaping unharmed.

“I heard the shot from my house,” Ethan Cash, who lives near the store, told WREG-TV. “I had just woken up and I look back over here and I see a guy coming over here with a shotgun.” Cash said he went to the crime scene and found a person who had been shot. He said he checked for a pulse but found none.

In the sheriff’s office lobby, Norma Washington told the Associated Press that Chris Boyce was her nephew and was from Florida. She said he and brother Doug, who lives in Alaska, were in town to clean up a property they inherited from their late uncle.

“I lost my brother and now this one,” Washington said. “That was different.”

It was unclear if Crum knew any of the brothers.

The killings stunned residents of Arkabutla, home to 285 people and about 30 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. It is the hometown of famous actor James Earl Jones, and nearby Arkabutla Lake is a popular fishing and recreational destination.

According to the Coldwater Elementary School Facebook page, an elementary school and high school in nearby Coldwater have been placed under lockdown while the suspect is sought. A short time later, a second post on the site said the lockdown had been lifted and “all students and staff are safe.”

April Wade, who lives in Arkabutla and grew up in Coldwater, said both are small communities where most people know each other, “but if you don’t, you know someone who knows someone.”

Speaking at a local tire shop in the afternoon, Wade said she and her husband were aware of the shooting but had not yet heard the names of the suspects or victims.

“I think it’s crazy,” Wade said. “You don’t expect something like this to happen so close to home.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said its agents would assist the sheriff’s department and state investigators. Lance said one of her top priorities was establishing a motive.

The sheriff, who has lived in the area all his life and served in law enforcement for 25 years, said he can’t remember any previous problems with Crum.

The shootings are the first mass killing in the United States since Jan. 23, the latest of six in a three-week period, according to an Associated Press/USA Today database. It defines mass murder as the death of four or more people, not counting the perpetrator.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden mourned the six victims and prayed for the survivors. He called on Congress to enact gun law reforms now to address what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence. Gun violence in US: Gunman kills 6, including ex-wife, in Mississippi

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