Panola Co. sheriff dead

BATESVILLE — Authorities say an autopsy was being performed Monday on the body of Panola County Sheriff Hugh Wayne “Shot” Bright, though it appears the gunshot wound that killed him was self-inflicted.

District Attorney John Champion said Bright was found dead at a friend’s house in Batesville Sunday afternoon. He said authorities are interviewing people to find out if Bright had been depressed or if something had been bothering him.

Champion told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday that the death appears to be suicide, but no note has been found.

Panola County Supervisor William “Bubba” Waldrup and Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey also said Bright shot himself and that he was pronounced dead at Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

Bright was elected sheriff in 2005 to complete the term of David Bryan, who died of cancer. Bright was elected to a four-year term in 2007. Bright worked for 20 years in the sheriff’s department including several years as jail administrator.

Champion said Bright had set up a competent chain of leadership and the department can absorb the sheriff’s loss while still protecting the community.

Champion said Chief Deputy Otis Griffin will run the sheriff’s department until an interim sheriff is appointed by the board of supervisors.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was handling the investigation into Bright’s death. Champion said Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Champion also said sheriffs from surrounding counties have offered to help in any way they can, including having their deputies patrol near the county lines if needed.

The Associated Press