By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Several of Paul Kevin Curtis’ neighbors said they were shocked Wednesday evening when Curtis was captured as he tried to evade the FBI in their Redwood Drive cul de sac in Corinth.
Curtis was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.
Kayla and Matthew Latch live next door west of Curtis’ 802 Redwood Drive, House 3, residence in the West Hills public housing subdivision known locally as Mini City.
“My room is at the end of the house right next to his house,” Kayla Latch said Thursday morning. “I couldn’t sleep in my room last night. Yesterday we were babysitting my three-year-old cousins and their 10-year-old brother, so I’m glad we weren’t outside.”
Kayla and Matthew’s older brother, Tyler Latch, witnessed Curtis trying to run from law enforcement in his white SUV.
“He looked outside and saw him and called my mama and the rest of us,” Matthew Latch said. “They blocked him in with two cars, then there were three more cars that came.”
Across the cul de sac, Lacey Ross was returning to her 805 Redwood Drive, House 6, residence about 9 p.m. and was blocked from entering by the police until she showed identification that she lived there. She had met Curtis once, only briefly, but he “seemed nice.”
“It freaked me out because when I met him I was with my 7-year-old daughter who has mild autism,” Ross said. “He had this sweet little dog, and we talked about that people said I should get a dog and it would be good for my little girl.”
Ross said she was surprised when she saw Curtis living in the house because the day he moved in she only saw an elderly couple and thought they were probably his parents moving there. She hasn’t seen them since then.
Matthew Latch said the dog was with Curtis in the SUV when he was captured, but the dog ran off in all the excitement. They’ve heard, though, that the animal shelter may have the dog now.
Ross had been to a family birthday party at her sister Heather Gilliland’s home, and Gilliland was with her Thursday.
After a day of watching and waiting, these and other neighbors sat outside their homes on lawn chairs as a 16-member hazmat team arrived to execute a search warrant at Curtis’ house.
Eight team members, wearing protective gear from head to toe, approached the house at 6:19 p.m. with what appeared to be high-powered weapons. They gathered outside the front door, holding the storm door open while apparently examining the entry door before six of the team members went inside and the other two stayed outside at the door.
After about 15 minutes the six exited the house, where they were thoroughly decontaminated by the eight other team members, who had set up a series of stations in the street outside.
“I was just glad we had the party at my house, but my little 8-year-old girl is over here all the time with Lacey’s two daughters,” Gillialand said. “I moved out when they built the prison across the street, and I’m glad I did.”