TV reports: Miss. police hold suspected cop-poser

JACKSON — A sheriff said in TV reports that a man suspected of posing as an officer to stop motorists in Humphreys County has been detained for questioning, but police said they don’t know whether he’s connected to two fatal highway shootings more than 100 miles to the north.

Mississippi authorities had warned residents previously that someone could be posing as an officer after two people were found slain late at night along desolate highway stretches within three days last week. A 74-year-old Nebraska man was found in his car on Interstate 55 in Panola County on May 8 and a 48-year-old woman from Hernando three days later close to her car on Mississippi Highway 713 in nearby Tunica County.

Three TV stations reported a man was detained Thursday in Yazoo County after allegedly trying to pull over motorists the night before in neighboring Humphreys County. Authorities there haven’t responded to numerous messages left by The Associated Press.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain told The AP on Thursday that it’s too early to speculate on any possible link to the highway killings. Strain referred other questions to local authorities, who didn’t respond to messages.

The man being questioned in Humphreys County was identified as James Lucas, who was driving a blue Mercury Marquis, Yazoo County Sheriff Jacob Sheriff told WLBT-TV. He was pulled over because the car he was driving matched the description of a vehicle involved in the two incidents Wednesday night.

Sheriff told WLBT-TV that the driver pulled over in one of the incidents saw someone get out of the passenger’s side of a Mercury with a gun. He became suspicious and drove off with the Mercury in pursuit, according to the report. The official told WLBT that at some point the motorist pulled out a gun of his own and fired at the Mercury. It appears nobody was injured.

Sheriff said the Mercury had a Hinds County license plate, but that Lucas was staying at his girlfriend’s home in Yazoo City. He said a search of the home turned up fake guns, fake police badges, and handcuffs.

WLBT-TV reports no charges have been filed against Lucas, but they are expected.

Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker held a news conference Thursday and said someone in his central Mississippi county posed as an officer to pull over two women in separate incidents in recent weeks. He said it’s not likely those were related to the shootings in north Mississippi and nobody was hurt. Still, nothing has been ruled out, he said.

In one of the Madison County cases, Tucker said there was “dialogue” between the suspected impostor and the motorist, but he would not provide details about that. Tucker said the other case ended when the woman pulled over and the car drove off. He said the cars used to stop the women in Madison County were a small red car on one occasions and an SUV the other time. Tucker said a blue dashboard light was used both times.