Police: Starkville student innocent bystander

By The Associated Press

WEST POINT — A Starkville High School football player was an incident bystander when he was shot and killed Sunday at a West Point apartment complex, according to authorities.

More details of the death of 16-year-old Devin Mitchell were released Tuesday.

West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said a municipal judge Tuesday set bond at $2.2 million for 31-year-old Tavaris F. Collins. Collins is charged with murder and felony possession of a firearm.

Mitchell, a junior, was a member of the Starkville High football team that reached the Class 5A state title game this season. Mitchell, a tight end and linebacker, led Starkville with 34 catches for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“We do know that this was a random act of violence,” Brinkley said. “The victim was not involved in any criminal activity. Our investigation revealed that he was really an innocent bystander.”

Mitchell was visiting relatives at Ridgewood Apartments. Mitchell was shot in the head and died later at a Tupelo hospital.

Brinkley said firecrackers were being fired in the area.

“Apparently Mr. Collins fired shots at what he believed to be persons that were shooting at him. Our investigation revealed that multiple shots were fired, but that no other shots were fired other than those that came from Mr. Collins’ gun,” Brinkley said. “Mr. Mitchell was not in the possession of a gun and did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Brinkley said Collins was not a resident at the complex. Brinkley said Collins told investigators that he was there visiting an acquaintance.

Mitchell, a junior, was a member of the Starkville High football team that reached the Class 5A state title game this season. Mitchell, a tight end and linebacker, led Starkville with 34 catches for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Funeral arrangements are pending.