A man who escaped from a Mississippi jail over the weekend reportedly killed a pastor before dying in a house fire amid a confrontation with law enforcement on Wednesday morning.
Dylan Arrington, 22, is believed to be the man at the center of the whirlwind events that have left at least two people dead in Magnolia State. The dizzying tale of violent misfortune involves numerous law enforcement agencies, crimes, and allegations across Mississippi and state lines.
According to the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office, Arrington was one of four men who escaped from Raymond Detention Center, a facility 15 miles west of Jackson, on Sunday morning. At a news conference on Monday, Sheriff Tyree Jones said the foursome appeared to have forced their way through gaps in a cell and the roof of the jail.
“A breach was discovered in the B-Pod,” the HCSO said in a press release issued just before 3:30 a.m. on the day in question. “A white Hinds County Public Works van was also stolen.”
Attention, however, quickly turned to a red van – and the fatal interaction that led to its theft and missing status.
Reverend Anthony Watts, senior pastor of St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church in D’Lo, Mississippi, stopped to help a man who crashed his motorcycle on Interstate 55 Monday night, according to the chief of the Jackson Police, James E. Davis. For his act of being a good Samaritan, however, Watts was rewarded by getting shot several times. The attacker then stole his maroon 2011 Dodge Ram 1500, according to the HCSO.
“Based on information gathered from investigators, the suspect…fits the description of 22-year-old Dylan Arrington,” Davis said in comments reported by CBS News.
Watts died at the scene.
Those who knew Watts mourned his passing.
“We’re all in some kind of heartbreaking moment, but we know God has the upper hand,” said Reverend Carl Burton, associate pastor at St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church, in comments reported by the affiliate. Jackson-based CBS, WJTV. “We entrusted all our worries to him because he cares about everything we have to go through, we have to face, even then.”
“Reverend Watts was a person who loved everyone,” parishioner Vivan Ross told the TV station. “He didn’t meet any strangers. He would help you, do whatever he could for you. He loved everyone and we loved him.
“We are asking residents of Braxton, Harrisville and Old Pearl to be aware of their surroundings and to keep their home and vehicle doors locked,” the Simpson County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that included a statement. updated photo of Arrington and another photo of the van. “Sources have named Arrington as a suspect in the murder and armed carjacking of Pastor Anthony Watts of Magee.”
This Tuesday night message from SSCO identified Arrington as having “known ties to Simpson County.” But later that night, the wanted man is believed to have traveled to Leake County, an hour north, and the statewide search has focused its efforts there.
Leake County Sheriff Randy Atkinson said Arrington likely died in a house fire on Conway Road after a shooting early Wednesday morning, according to Jackson-based NBC affiliate WLBT.
“The fire was pretty big and it caused a lot of damage,” Jones, who was at the scene, told the TV station. “As you can also see, we believe there was someone inside the residence at the time the fire started. We can also confirm that at the time the fire started is declared, there was an exchange of gunfire.
Authorities do not know how the fire started.
“Basically one of the times he was shooting from the residence when he shot the window,” Atkinson told WLBT. “And it started smoking in that particular part of the house, and it just went up, I guess, spreading throughout the residence.”
A law enforcement officer was shot during the clash, the sheriff said, but he is recovering and “doing good”.
The other three wanted men have been identified as Casey Grayson, Corey Harrison and Jerry Raynes. At least one of those men is now believed to be in Texas, according to Hinds County officials.
Authorities say the pastor’s truck has not yet been found, while the Hinds County truck has since been recovered.
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