Police identify Mississippi shooting victims

Kevin McGill
Associated Press

Brookhaven, Miss. —Authorities say the suspect in the shooting deaths of eight people in Mississippi was related to or knew all but one of his victims.

Authorities on Monday released the names of the victims shot at three locations in rural Mississippi late Friday. They are: 55-year-old Barbara Mitchell; 53-year-old Brenda May; 35-year-old Tocarra May; a child who was not identified; a 17-year-old boy who was not identified; 45-year-old Ferral Burage; and 46-year-old Shelia Burage.

Police previously identified the one person whom the suspect did not know: Deputy sheriff William Durr, 36, of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.

Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain says the suspect, 35-year-old Willie Corey Godbolt, is still hospitalized at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Police have said Godbolt is being treated for a gunshot wound.

“I ain’t fit to live, not after what I done,” a handcuffed Godbolt told The Clarion-Ledger after the shootings.

The gunfire erupted Saturday night at a home in Bogue Chitto after the deputy arrived in response to a domestic disturbance call, and spread to two houses in nearby Brookhaven, about 70 miles south of Jackson.

Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said that prosecutors planned to charge Godbolt with murder but that it was too soon to say what the motive was.

However, a witness and Godbolt himself shed some light on what happened, with Godbolt giving an interview to the newspaper as he sat with his hands cuffed behind his back on the side of a road.

Godbolt said he was talking with his wife and in-laws when somebody called authorities.

“I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mama and her, my wife, about me taking my children home,” he said. “Somebody called the officer, people that didn’t even live at the house. That’s what they do. They intervene.”

“They cost him his life,” he said, apparently referring to the deputy. “I’m sorry.”

The stepfather-in-law, Vincent Mitchell, told The Associated Press that Godbolt’s wife and their two children had been staying at his Bogue Chitto home for about three weeks after she left her husband because of domestic violence.

When the sheriff’s deputy arrived at the house, Godbolt looked as if he were about to leave, then reached into his back pocket, pulled a gun and opened fire, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he escaped along with Godbolt’s wife. But he said three family members were killed in his home: his wife, her sister and one of the wife’s daughters.

“I’m devastated. It don’t seem like it’s real,” Mitchell said outside his yellow frame house, in a community of modest houses, trailer homes and small churches set among thick woods.

After fleeing his in-laws’ house, Godbolt killed four more people at two other homes, authorities said. At least seven hours elapsed between the first shootings and Godbolt’s arrest near the third and final crime scene in a subdivision of ranch houses in Brookhaven, a few miles from Bogue Chitto.

“It breaks everybody’s heart,” said Garrett Smith, a 19-year-old college student who went to high school with one of the victims. “Everybody knows everybody for the most part.”

The slain deputy, William Durr, 36, had served two years in the sheriff’s department and had previously worked as a Brookhaven police officer. Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said Durr was married and had an 11-year-old son.

“He had a heart of gold,” Rushing told The Daily Leader. “He loved doing anything with kids. He would go out of his way to help anybody.”

Off duty, he was a ventriloquist who took his puppets to schools and churches and performed for children.

Godbolt said he did not intend for police to capture him alive.

“My intentions was to have God kill me. I ran out of bullets,” he said. “Suicide by cop was my intention.”