At least eight people, including a deputy sheriff, were killed in a shootout in Mississippi on Sunday morning, according to police. The suspect has been taken into custody. Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said the shootings occurred at three separate homes in the state’s rural Lincoln County. The area is about 68 miles south of Jackson, the state capital.
The sheriff’s deputy was responding to a distress call when he was shot and killed by the suspect, according to media reports. The identities of the victims have not been released.
Strain said that investigators were gathering evidence at all three locations and added that charges had not yet been filed against the suspect. The spokesperson said that it would be “premature” to discuss a motive. It was not clear whether the suspect knew his victims before allegedly killing them.
However, the suspect himself gave some insight into the events that led to the shootings in an interview with a newspaper. “I ain’t fit to live, not after what I done,” Cory Godbolt told The Clarion-Ledger after his arrest. The newspaper recorded video of the suspect talking as he sat with hands cuffed behind his back on a roadside surrounded by law enforcement officers.
Godbolt said he was talking with his wife and members of her family when somebody called authorities. “I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mama and her, my wife, about me taking my children home,” the suspect says on the video. “Somebody called the officer, people that didn’t even live at the house. That’s what they do. They intervene. They cost him his life,” the suspect said, apparently in reference to the slain deputy. “I’m sorry.”
The suspect also said he did not intend for police to capture him alive. “My intentions was to have God kill me. I ran out of bullets,” he said. “Suicide by cop was my intention.””
Gov. Phil Bryant issued a statement asking state residents to pray for the victims. He also noted the “sacrifice” made by law enforcement officers to protect and serve their communities.
“Every day, the men and women who wear the badge make some measure of sacrifice to protect and serve their communities. Too often, we lose one of our finest. I thank the law enforcement agencies involved for their hard work,” Bryant said.
(With inputs from AP)