Byhalia man wounds wife, kills self

By The Associated Press

OLIVE BRANCH — Police say an employee of Williams-Sonoma was shot and critically wounded by her husband outside the company’s Olive Branch warehouse.

Police tell The Commercial Appeal that the gunman, 47-year-old Johnny Mathis Bell of Byhalia shot his wife, 47-year-old Connie Yancey Bell, before he fatally shot himself Wednesday.

The woman was airlifted to Regional Medical Center in Memphis, where she was listed in critical condition.

Police Chief Don Gammage said the shooting was a domestic-violence situation.

The shooting took place at about 4 a.m. in the parking lot of the Williams-Sonoma warehouse. Connie Bell, who has worked for the company for about 25 years, was arriving to work in her vehicle and was followed by her husband in another, the police chief said.

Gammage said Johnny Bell got out of his car and shot his wife with a rifle. He said Johnny Bell was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Jackson for an autopsy.

Gammage said Johnny Bell is a former employee of Williams-Sonoma, a San Francisco-based cookware retailer with distribution facilities in Olive Branch.

Williams-Sonoma spokeswoman Patricia Sellman said in a statement that the company has brought in counselors for employees at the distribution center.

“All of us at Williams-Sonoma Inc. extend our thoughts and prayers to our associate, Connie Bell, and her family in the aftermath of this tragic situation, and will continue to support Ms. Bell as she recovers. Our company is cooperating fully with the investigation and will defer to DeSoto County law enforcement authorities for any further information about this situation.”

The shooting was the second on the grounds of the plant in the last three years. In 2007, three employees were shot at in the parking lot on their way to work. One of the men was wounded.

No one has been charged in that shooting.