By JB Clark
TUPELO – The court date for John Shannon Gillentine, the 28-year-old charged with DUI death, has been pushed back to Aug. 4.
Gillentine’s attorneys, Rhea Tannehill and Edward Bogan Jr., cited the need for more time to prepare for the trial. They also said evidence from the district attorney’s office was not received until late March.
They also cited multiple calendar conflicts with the original May 6 court date.
Gillentine is charged in the Aug. 1 death of Betty Montgomery, who was taking an early morning walk in her neighborhood with Gillentine allegedly struck her with his vehicle.
By JB Clark
SALTILLO – Traffic on Highway 45 North was slowed this morning by a wreck involving two large trucks.
The accident occurred near the Natchez Trace overpass when a log truck rear-ended an 18-wheeler in the northbound lanes. The log truck did not spill any of its load.
The Saltillo Police Department worked the scene and reported only minor injuries. The road was cleared by 12:30 p.m.
By JB Clark
OXFORD – Attorneys for James Everett Dutschke have asked for, and been granted, a two-day extension to file any responses or objections to the government’s pre-sentencing report.
The request was filed Tuesday, on the due date for objections. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock granted the request, giving Dutschke until Thursday to file objections.
The 42-year-old former martial arts instructor, who pleaded guilty in January to a plot to sent ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other elected officials, is set to be sentenced May 14 in federal court.
This request for an extension to file responses to the pre-sentencing report is the second filed by Dutschke’s attorney, Kenneth Coghlan.
By JB Clark
PLANTERSVILLE – Residents will have a new representative on the Plantersville Board of Aldermen after voters selected Shelton Shannon to fill a vacancy.
The 60-year-old lifetime Plantersville resident said he wants to improve on what the community has and take it to greater heights by working with the people in the community.
Tuesday’s election was a runoff resulting from a special held April 8 in which 126 residents voted for Shannon, 102 for Charlotte Diggs and 54 for Chink Freeman. The runoff was necessary since no candidate carried a 50-percent (plus one vote) majority. Tuesday, Shelton received 185 votes to Diggs’ 90.
The vacancy was created after Ketrick Marion, 35, resigned from the board in February, following his guilty plea to charges of aggravated domestic violence.
He was sentenced to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, all of which is suspended pending good behavior.
By JB Clark
TUPELO – A Northeast Mississippi couple was arraigned Monday on charges stemming from a three-day crime spree.
Anthony Glenn Poe, 35, of Smithville, had his bond set at $1 million, and Karen Michelle Barker, 49, of Oxford, had her bond set at $10,000 in the Lee County Justice Court on Monday morning.
Poe was charged with the April 17 armed robbery of a woman at the Tupelo Nursing and rehabilitation center on Briar Ridge Road, while Barker was charged with accessory to armed robbery.
The two are also charged with another armed robbery and passing bad checks.
Tupelo Police Sgt. Lynette Sandlin said they believe the pair went from Tupelo to Columbus, then Pickens County, Ala., and Northport, Ala., and then back to the Tupelo area.
Officials with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office allege the two followed a woman home and robbed her in her yard on Reform-Gordo Road after the woman exited her vehicle. The woman sustained non-life threatening injuries.
Lowndes County and Northport, Ala., officials have placed uttering forgery charges against the two.
A Pontotoc County deputy initiated a traffic stop on the Poe and Barker were in Saturday night after Tupelo Police sent out a description of their vehicle earlier in the week.
Poe and Barker fled in an older model silver Mercury Sable. The suspects wrecked the vehicle in Tupelo, behind the Scottish Inn, at which point Poe allegedly ran from the scene on foot but was taken into custody after a brief foot pursuit.
The two then evaded police, initiating a chase into Tupelo where Sandlin said they voluntarily stopped near the Scottish Inn Saturday evening.
By JB Clark
TUPELO – Itawamba Community College’s film club will be evolving in the coming year thanks to a more than $100,000 equipment donation from a filmmaker.
Kat Phillips, of Kat Scratch Films, presented a Sony Cinealta high-definition camera along with an HD monitor and other filming equipment to ICC officials at Malco Cinema on Saturday during the Tupelo Film Festival.
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of my very first film’s debut at the Tupelo Film Festival,” Phillips said. “Ron Tibbet and Pat Rasberry reinforced that I should stay in film when I was upset about the process of getting films into festivals. They said to stay with it and I did.”
Phillips, a Mississippi native, said since then, she has seen a wealth of filmmaking talent in Mississippi, especially in Tupelo, and wanted to help nurture that.
“There are a lot of extraordinarily talented kids – filmmakers – in Tupelo, and grown-ups too,” she said. “It’s like how a lot of great writers came out of Mississippi. The filmmakers just don’t have the resources to build their talent. This is really high-end equipment that will let them see the world in cinema quality.”
Itawamba Community College President Mike Eaton said thanks to the donation and the determination of the 30 film club members, the college will add film courses in the fall.
Phillips said Mississippi has wonderful and attractive tax incentives for filmmakers but a lack of film programs and industry exposure requires filmmakers to fly in film crew for their projects.
“When we shot here we had to fly in trained crew members, to have a program that trains crew for films would be another advantage,” she said.
Eaton said the college can now add a couple courses to “broaden the horizons for people who are interested in film. Now, we don’t have a film program yet, but certainly this is the first step in possibly developing something of that nature in the future.”
Phillips’ newest film, “Chasing the White Dragon,” was shot on the donated camera and has been named best feature, best drama feature narrative, best ensemble case, best screenplay and best supporting actor at various film festivals across the country.
By JB Clark
TUPELO – Edwin Crenshaw stood at the foot of the hill in front of the Wellness Center on Saturday, shouting at exhausted men and women as they jogged to the top of a water slide and dove down.
“Hit it!” he shouted. “Dive!”
When they reached the bottom, he clicked his stopwatch.
The slide was the last of 17 obstacles in the Boerner Be Wild fitness challenge course.
The event was created in memory of the late community and fitness advocate Hank Boerner, who died unexpectedly in December 2012. He served as North Mississippi Medical Center’s Wellness Center director and as co-chairman of the Healthy Tupelo Task Force.
“He was all about fitness, exercise for kids and the Tupelo health task Force,” said Crenshaw, the Wellness Center’s fitness supervisor. “This is our first time to do this course but I think it’s going to turn out real well. Last year we did a smaller version at Ballard Park and we’re playing with it to see how it works.”
Crewshaw said they hope to combine the course, which is geared toward adults, with something more kid-friendly for next year’s Boerner Be Wild event.
“You’ve got the jump rope, and then the tractor tire flip, they’ll run around the track to a culvert and crawl through it,” Crenshaw explained. “And then the sit-ups, sledge hammer toss, squat throw with a weighted ball, plow jumps, they pull a tree, monkey bars, run through the wooded trail up to a 500-meter row, wall climb with a water-slide at the end. A combination of all that can tax you.”
Amy Fagan, one of the first to complete the course, said some of the obstacles were a blast and others were difficult.
“The course was challenging and a great workout,” she said. “The ending was the slide and that was a nice reward because I got really hot on the course.”
Larry Coggin said he had fun with the tire flip and the water-slide finish but the log pull gave him the most trouble.
“It’s a 300-pound log,” he said. “I’m no lumberjack, and that was hard.”
The proceeds from the event will be distributed through the Healthy Tupelo Task Force for projects to educate youth on the importance of physical fitness. Boerner Be Wild events last year raised $10,000. The task force already has made its first grant of $500 to support the Boern to Run kids races, which will be held April 25 at Fairpark.
By JB Clark
TUPELO – A Tupelo man died from injuries sustained in an early morning fire Saturday.
Romero Hampton, 41, was in his 201 South Foster Street home with his wife early Saturday morning.
Lee County Coroner Carolyn Green said he woke his wife up and she was able to exit the home but he was not. He was pronounced dead at 6:06 a.m. at the North Mississippi Medical Center.
Green said he appears to have suffered from smoke inhalation but an autopsy will be performed Monday to be sure.
The Tupelo Fire Department and Tupelo Police Department are still investigating the fire.
TUPELO – Northeast Mississippians have opportunities next weekend to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will collect prescription drugs Friday and the Tupelo Police Department will do the same Saturday.
The service is free and anonymous. Anyone with expired or unused prescription drugs can bring them to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. where they will be collected, no questions asked, and disposed of by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office collected 100 pounds of prescription drugs in April of last year during the drug take-back.
Anyone who cannot make it to the sheriff’s office has a second opportunity at the CVS at Crosstown in Tupelo. The Tupelo Police Department will be on site collecting prescriptions from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday.
Tupelo Police Capt. Tony McCoy said it is a good idea to remove labels from the bottles before dropping them off for the sake of privacy.
“I think it’s important because, if you keep the old meds around, they certainly have a shelf life and expire,” he said. “And if you have children in the home, you don’t want them getting their hands on old medicines that could harm them.”
Sheriff Jim Johnson said it also helps prevent pill theft and abuse by ridding homes of excess medicines that otherwise may be diverted for illegal uses.
Outside Lee County and also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday , prescriptions can be dropped off with Booneville Police Department representatives at the CVS in Booneville, at the Fulton Walmart with the Fulton Police Department, at the Union County Sheriff’s Office and at the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department.
By JB Clark
NETTLETON – Debra Worthy was in Tupelo around noon Wednesday when her son called to tell her about the shooting happening just outside his front door – an incident that left three people dead.
“He called me so I would know before I heard it in the news or on Facebook or before I tried to come over,” Worthy said. “I told him to put my grandbabies in the middle of the house and lock the doors. I’m still thanking God for watching over my babies. He may be 36, but he’s still my baby.”
Thursday morning, Worthy was watching her grandchildren at her son’s Main Street Nettleton home while he was at work. She said she was shocked to hear of the shooting happening downtown in Nettleton, such a quiet town.
Worthy’s son heard the gunshots and then saw Otis Bass, 49, who police say was the shooter, chasing his brother, Joseph Bass, 44, down Main Street while firing at him.
The two Shannon men were in a vehicle together stopped at the intersection of Mullen Avenue and Main Street when police say the elder Bass began firing.
Worthy said her son then saw Bass shooting at a police officer before being shot himself, by the police officer, right in their front yard.
“He was laying right there,” she said pointing to the sidewalk between her house and her neighbors’. “It’s sad that anything like this would happen, especially here.”
Gunshots, not fireworks
Tony Plunkett was finishing a patch on a customer’s tire at Frank’s Tire Shop when they both heard what they thought to be fireworks.
“We were talking about the price and everything when they started firing up the road at the stop sign,” Plunkett said. “We heard the gunshots there but didn’t, you know, think it was gunshots at first.
“And then (someone) screamed and we seen a guy run down the sidewalk here and fall right in front of that four-wheeler,” he said, pointing out of the shop’s garage door toward the street in front of the store. “The other guy walked up to him and just shot him.”
Plunkett said he saw Otis Bass stand over his brother and shoot him five times.
“It looked like a 9 mm automatic handgun,” Plunkett said. “He probably shot 15-20 times.”
Plunkett closed the shop door, brought his customers inside, locked up and called 911. That’s when the police car approached the stopped vehicle.
“I was on the phone when the officer passed, and I said, ‘Your officer just passed the body on the road,’” Plunkett said. “About that time is when the gunman opened fire on the police officer, blowing out the back glass. And then the officer bailed out and returned fire.”
Plunkett said he has never in his life seen anything like what happened Wednesday and would be happy never to see anything like it again.
Neither Worthy nor Plunkett – nor the people in Frank’s Shop with Plunkett – were familiar with the two brothers or the other shooting victim, Jamie Guinn, 33, of Mantachie.
Nettleton Police Chief A.D. Heard said they have not had any previous encounters with any of the three involved in Wednesday’s shooting.
Heard said his officer is still on leave until he is cleared to return by investigators, and is doing fine.
“Everything is back to usual, but it will be a while before everyone gets over the murders,” he said.
The murders are the first since Heard became police chief in July, and he said they’re the only ones he can remember in Nettleton.
“It’s sad that people got killed, but we’re thankful the officer was able to take care of the situation and keep anyone else from getting hurt,” said Nettleton Mayor Jimmy Taylor.
The only damage to city property were the bullet holes in the patrol vehicle and the shattered back windshield.
“Bullets went through the trunk into the back seat area,” Taylor said. “That sort of thing can be fixed, and we’re just glad no one else was hurt.”
Police say the two Bass brothers, Guin and one other person were in the same vehicle traveling toward downtown from United Furniture around 11:40 a.m. Wednesday. As they approached the intersection, police say the elder Bass fired a gun multiple times, wounding the other two. The younger Bass fled down Main Street, pursued by his brother.
When police arrived, Bass had shot his brother and Guin multiple times. The responding officer was shot at and returned fire, killing Bass. Guin was airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center where he later died.
While officials say the altercation began at United Furniture, it has not been confirmed whether any of those involved in the shooting were employed there.
The shooting is still being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.