Witnesses recount horror of Nettleton shootout

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal Shell casings litter Main Street in Nettleton following a shooting that left three dead on Wednesday.

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal
Shell casings litter Main Street in Nettleton following a shooting that left three dead on Wednesday.

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

NETTLETON – Debra Worthy was in Tupelo around noon Wednesday when her son called to tell her about the shooting happening just outside his front door – an incident that left three people dead.

“He called me so I would know before I heard it in the news or on Facebook or before I tried to come over,” Worthy said. “I told him to put my grandbabies in the middle of the house and lock the doors. I’m still thanking God for watching over my babies. He may be 36, but he’s still my baby.”

Thursday morning, Worthy was watching her grandchildren at her son’s Main Street Nettleton home while he was at work. She said she was shocked to hear of the shooting happening downtown in Nettleton, such a quiet town.

Worthy’s son heard the gunshots and then saw Otis Bass, 49, who police say was the shooter, chasing his brother, Joseph Bass, 44, down Main Street while firing at him.

The two Shannon men were in a vehicle together stopped at the intersection of Mullen Avenue and Main Street when police say the elder Bass began firing.

Worthy said her son then saw Bass shooting at a police officer before being shot himself, by the police officer, right in their front yard.

“He was laying right there,” she said pointing to the sidewalk between her house and her neighbors’. “It’s sad that anything like this would happen, especially here.”

Gunshots, not fireworks

Tony Plunkett was finishing a patch on a customer’s tire at Frank’s Tire Shop when they both heard what they thought to be fireworks.

“We were talking about the price and everything when they started firing up the road at the stop sign,” Plunkett said. “We heard the gunshots there but didn’t, you know, think it was gunshots at first.

“And then (someone) screamed and we seen a guy run down the sidewalk here and fall right in front of that four-wheeler,” he said, pointing out of the shop’s garage door toward the street in front of the store. “The other guy walked up to him and just shot him.”

Plunkett said he saw Otis Bass stand over his brother and shoot him five times.

“It looked like a 9 mm automatic handgun,” Plunkett said. “He probably shot 15-20 times.”

Plunkett closed the shop door, brought his customers inside, locked up and called 911. That’s when the police car approached the stopped vehicle.

“I was on the phone when the officer passed, and I said, ‘Your officer just passed the body on the road,’” Plunkett said. “About that time is when the gunman opened fire on the police officer, blowing out the back glass. And then the officer bailed out and returned fire.”

Plunkett said he has never in his life seen anything like what happened Wednesday and would be happy never to see anything like it again.

Neither Worthy nor Plunkett – nor the people in Frank’s Shop with Plunkett – were familiar with the two brothers or the other shooting victim, Jamie Guinn, 33, of Mantachie.

Nettleton Police Chief A.D. Heard said they have not had any previous encounters with any of the three involved in Wednesday’s shooting.

Rare occurrence

Heard said his officer is still on leave until he is cleared to return by investigators, and is doing fine.

“Everything is back to usual, but it will be a while before everyone gets over the murders,” he said.

The murders are the first since Heard became police chief in July, and he said they’re the only ones he can remember in Nettleton.

“It’s sad that people got killed, but we’re thankful the officer was able to take care of the situation and keep anyone else from getting hurt,” said Nettleton Mayor Jimmy Taylor.

The only damage to city property were the bullet holes in the patrol vehicle and the shattered back windshield.

“Bullets went through the trunk into the back seat area,” Taylor said. “That sort of thing can be fixed, and we’re just glad no one else was hurt.”

Police say the two Bass brothers, Guin and one other person were in the same vehicle traveling toward downtown from United Furniture around 11:40 a.m. Wednesday. As they approached the intersection, police say the elder Bass fired a gun multiple times, wounding the other two. The younger Bass fled down Main Street, pursued by his brother.

When police arrived, Bass had shot his brother and Guin multiple times. The responding officer was shot at and returned fire, killing Bass. Guin was airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center where he later died.

While officials say the altercation began at United Furniture, it has not been confirmed whether any of those involved in the shooting were employed there.

The shooting is still being investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.

jb.clark@journalinc.com

  • Beauregard Rippy

    Ottis not Otis.