Mississippi shooting suspect led a life marked by violence

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. – Willie Cory Godbolt, the man accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy and seven people who he knew in the countryside of Mississippi, has led a life characterized by violence.

When Godbolt was 17, his mother shot and killed his father, a Brookhaven police officer, after the two had separated, Brookhaven police chief Bobby Bell said Tuesday. In the two decades since, Godbolt was charged with the offence of sexual assault or similar crimes at least a dozen times, and convicted in at least six of them, Lincoln County court records show.

June last year, his wife accused him of choking and punching her, and while his hand along her mouth so she could not scream.

Researchers say his most violent act yet happened in the weekend, when there is a domestic violence dispute collapsed into a killing spree, which is still eight people dead at three separate houses. He may face the death penalty if convicted.

About two decades ago, Godbolt’s mother accused father of domestic violence, but the charges were later withdrawn. In 1999, with the help of her ex-husband and the police a revolver, they shot him to death and pleaded guilty to manslaughter and burglary. She is no longer in the prison.

Godbolt, shackled at his hands and feet, appeared in court briefly Tuesday afternoon and was refused bail. He was being held at the Copiah County jail.

He left the armed was in the context of a gunshot wound, but it is not clear who shot him. Researchers say that it is not the police.

Godbolt, who in the past has worked for a grocery distributor, showed little emotion, and hardly spoke during the hearing. A judge said that the court appoint a lawyer for him.

Were killed Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr; Barbara Mitchell, 55; Brenda May, 53; Toccara May, 35; Ferral Burage, 45; Shelia Burage, 46; Austin Edwards, 11; and Jordan Blackwell, 18.

The funeral was planned over several days from Thursday.

In the past four years, Godbolt had been cited repeatedly for the making of threats or attacks on family members, and others. He was convicted after punching a man and pushing a woman out of the bleachers at a school football game in October 2013.

Godbolt in-laws, the family, the indictment against him multiple times, with Godbolt being convicted of death threats in November 2015.

His wife, Sheena Godbolt, obtained a restraining order against her husband last June after accusing him of the crime of domestic violence. Sheena Godbolt swore in court papers that her husband harmed her “by punching her in the stomach repeatedly and choking her. She says he also put his hand down to her mouth where she could not shout for help.”

On Saturday, the first call came at 11:30 for the removal of a person who is involved in internal disputes. Researchers say that Godbolt had gone to a house to demand that his estranged wife give their two children. Durr, the deputy, told him to leave, and the family said that it seemed Godbolt was going to meet when he opened fire.

“We have dealt with calls like that a thousand times,” Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said. “At one point it really went bad.”

After the killing of four persons, there is Godbolt kept an all-night rampage, where he killed the two boys on a second house, and then the Burages in a third location around sunrise.

Rush said Godbolt changed cars at least three times. Witnesses say he forced a woman and a 15-year-old boy to him for a large part of the night. Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain refused to confirm these reports.

Apart from the deputy, everyone who died was a family member or acquaintance of Godbolt.

A story of heroism arise from the carnage. A witness at the second recording said Blackwell used his body to protect his cousin, Caleb Edwards, 15, of the gunfire.

“He loved me enough to take some bullets for me,” Caleb said Sunday.

Caleb, the 11-year-old brother, Austin Edwards, was also shot in that living room early Sunday.

Godbolt told The Clarion-Ledger that he hadn’t 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 writer Emily Wagster Pettus contributed to this report.


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