Deputy killed in Mississippi rampage had worked in the operation

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. – A Mississippi deputy killed in a shooting, had worked in a Christian ministry before going to law enforcement, and likes to do puppet shows to deliver constructive messages of the children.

William Durr, 36, was responding to a domestic-violence call late Saturday when he was shot to death in Brookhaven, a south Mississippi of the city, surrounded by pine trees and rolling green meadows. He was one of eight people killed in a shooting rampage at three different houses — an outbreak of violence that has shaken the county of 34,500 residents.

The researchers said Willie Corey Godbolt, 35, will be charged with one count of capital murder and seven counts of first degree murder. Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said the cost could change as the investigation continues.

Authorities said Monday Godbolt was related to or acquainted with all the victims, except Durr.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation identified those killed as: Barbara Mitchell, 55; Brenda May, 53; Tocarra Can, 35; a child that was not identified; a 17-year-old boy who has not been identified; Ferral Burage, 45; and Shelia Burage, 46.

Godbolt remained in the hospital in good condition for a gunshot wound Monday in Jackson, the court may, at the latest on Tuesday in Brookhaven. It was not clear who shot him.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, which has approximately 75 employees and is as a close-knit family, said Zach Harveston, who has worked as a coordinator there for two years. Harveston said he was shocked by Durr’s death.

“He loved to lead children to the good Lord,” Harveston said. “He was just a natural servant of the Lord here at the department and even in the church he served in.”

Durr was married and had an 11-year-old son. His mother spoke briefly with the AP on Monday, saying that the family is still in need.

“He was a good Christian man,” Debbie Durr said at her rural home near Brookhaven. “He was a youth minister and a pastor before going to law enforcement.”

Off-duty, Durr was also a ventriloquist, who are puppets to schools and churches. Two weeks ago, Durr entertained preschoolers at Brookhaven Academy, a Christian school in the city. The message he shared was that, just as the fireflies — people can use their inner light to help the people around them.

“His character: top-notch,” said the Page, Nelson, the school’s elementary principal.

On Sunday, Vincent Mitchell sat outside his small, yellow house and tried to understand how a family dispute led to a massacre that killed eight people, including the deputy who tried to keep them safe.

“I’m devastated. It doesn’t seem like it really is,” Mitchell said shortly after the arrest of Godbolt, his stepson-in-law. “Him and my stepdaughter, they have been going back and forth for a few years with domestic violence.”

Godbolt is evident from Mitchell’s house in the southern Mississippi town of Bogue Chitto shortly before midnight Saturday to demand that his estranged wife give their two children. She and the children had been staying for them, and in about three weeks, Mitchell told the AP.

“He would come to his children. The deputy was named,” and asked him to leave, and it seemed Godbolt would be in line on the first, Mitchell said.

“He acted like, gesturing like he was fixing to go. Then he reached into his pocket and grabbed a gun,” Mitchell said. “He just started shooting everything.”

Mitchell said he escaped along with Godbolt’s wife, but Mitchell’s wife, her sister and one of the wife and daughters were killed. Authorities said Godbolt fled and killed four people at two other homes.

Godbolt gave his own account of what happened in an interview with The Clarion-Ledger as he sat with his hands cuffed on his back on the side of a road in Brookhaven, about 70 miles (110 km) south of Jackson.

“I had a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mom and her, my wife, about me and my children home,” he said. “Someone called the officer, people who don’t even live in the house. That’s what they do. They intervene.”

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

“My pain was not designed for him. He was just there,” Godbolt said. “I am not fit to live, not after what I done.”

At least seven hours elapsed between the first shootings and Godbolt’s arrest in the near of the last scene of the crime, in a subdivision of ranch houses.

Godbolt said that he had not planned to be captured alive.

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


Associated Press writers Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; Jeff Amy in Metairie, Louisiana; Justin Pritchard in Los Angeles; and Kathleen Foody in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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