Police: Man arrested in Mississippi State shooting

By Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Pres

Authorities said a man was charged Monday with capital murder and the sale of a controlled substance in connection with the weekend death of a Mississippi State University student who was shot in a dormitory.

Mason Perry Jones, 21, of Jackson, was arrested on a capital murder charge in the death of John Sanderson, 21, of Madison, university police said. Authorities said Jones was not a student at the university and two other men are being sought for questioning as “persons of interest” in the case.

For a capital murder charge, there must be an underlying felony charge, and university spokeswoman Maridith Geuder said the underlying charge is the sale of a controlled substance.

Conviction on a capital murder charge is punishable by either the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jones was being held at the Oktibbeha County Jail in northern Mississippi and has requested an attorney, Geuder told The Associated Press. She said she had no additional information on the charges.

The U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force arrested Jones on Sunday in Memphis, Tenn., on an unrelated, outstanding robbery warrant from Jackson. Richard Griffin, supervisory agent for the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Jackson, said Jones was traveling north on a bus from Jackson under an assumed name.

Marshals were acting on a tip when they arrested him after the bus stopped in Memphis. Griffin said he wasn’t sure if Jones had planned to travel beyond there.

Sanderson was shot late Saturday in a dormitory on campus. Authorities said the shooting appeared to have been isolated.

“Our detectives have done outstanding investigative work over the past 48 hours, with tremendous assistance from the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, as well as Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Starkville Police, and Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office,” Lindley said. “We appreciate the hard work and cooperation of all involved.”

University Police Chief Georgia Lindley said in an earlier statement the investigation is continuing. Two other men are considered persons of interest in the case, according to authorities.

Sanderson was one of two college students in Mississippi gunned down over the weekend.

Nolan Ryan Henderson III, a 19-year-old Jackson State University freshman from Atlanta, died early Sunday from being shot in the face at an off-campus apartment pool party in Jackson.

At Mississippi State, university president Mark Keenum said in a statement on the school’s website that the killing of Sanderson was the first time a student had been shot on the campus.

“We work very hard to ensure the safety of our students, and we are all saddened that this isolated event has brought tragedy to our campus and to a family who is grieving the loss of a loved one,” he said.

Geuder has previously said police received a call about the shooting at Evans Hall around 10 p.m. Saturday and police were on the scene within a minute. Sanderson was taken to Oktibbeha County Hospital, where he died.

Three men fled the building in a blue Crown Victoria, officials said.

The four-story Evans Hall holds about 300 male students and is located on the north side of campus.

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Release From MSU Media Relations

Mississippi State University has announced an arrest in the weekend slaying of MSU student John Sanderson.

Mason Perry Jones, 21, of Jackson, was arrested in DeSoto County today [March 26] on capital murder charges, said Police Chief Georgia Lindley.

“Our detectives have done outstanding investigative work over the past 48 hours, with tremendous assistance from the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, as well as Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Starkville Police, and Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office,” she said. “We appreciate the hard work and cooperation of all involved.”

Jones is one of three suspects in the weekend slaying of Sanderson, 21, who was shot on campus in Evans Hall. The investigation is continuing, Lindley said.

Jones was arrested in Memphis Sunday by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force on an unrelated warrant and today was charged by MSU Police with capital murder. Circumstances surrounding the shooting are still being investigated.

“We are extremely proud of the diligence shown by our police officers, who have demonstrated the highest level of professionalism during the investigation of this tragic death,” said MSU President Mark Keenum.

“We work very hard to ensure the safety of our students, and we are all saddened that this isolated event has brought tragedy to our campus and to a family who is grieving the loss of a loved one,” he said.

Keenum also credited the work of the university’s Crisis Action Team for coordinating response to the incident. “They also worked throughout the weekend to ensure that our campus was informed and updated as events unfolded,” he said.

Read more about this story in Tuesday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.