News conference on shootings

Greenwood Police Chief Jody Bradley announces during a press conference held in front of the Police Department Thursday that police have arrested a 26-year-old male suspect in connection with two shooting incidents in Greenwood: a mass shooting Saturday night that killed two and injured eight and a shooting last month that killed two people. Behind Bradley, from left, are Deputy Police Chief Marvin Hammond and city councilmen Ronnie Stevenson, Charles McCoy and David Jordan.

Greenwood police have in custody a man who authorities believe was responsible for two shooting incidents in Greenwood — Saturday night’s shooting on the 400 block of West Martin Luther King Drive that killed two people and injured eight others as well as a shooting last month on East Johnson Street that killed two people.

The 26-year-old suspect was arrested Tuesday night, according to a statement from police that was released Thursday during a news conference.

Present were Police Chief Jody Bradley, Deputy Police Chief Marvin Hammond and detectives from the police department as well as city councilmen Ronnie Stevenson, David Jordan and Charles McCoy.

“I’m not going to comment about who the person is or anything because it’s a very active investigation,” said Bradley, who also declined to answer questions after the news conference.

The suspect had been identified through video surveillance from security cameras that authorities have installed throughout the city. Bradley said the devices “were instrumental in finding this person.”

“We’re going to put up even more of the cameras just because it’s very important that we have that tool available to us,” he said. Bradley said his detectives have been “pounding the streets constantly.”

Once the suspect was apprehended, the police investigation linked him to a shooting on Sept. 17 on East Johnson Street.

Police confiscated the suspect’s AR-15, the type of gun police believe was used in Saturday’s mass shooting based on the shell casings collected at the scene. A ballistics test will be performed on the weapon, police said in a statement.

Bradley said the Police Department has also been working with the District Attorney’s Office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal agency.

“We are satisfied with how the investigation is progressing, and we are extremely pleased with the conversations we had at the DA’s office this morning in how they are going to proceed with us and help us get to court at some time,” Bradley said.

Three men and seven women were shot at an outdoor gathering Saturday night following a funeral for Elizabeth Hunt Pitts. Some of the victims were from Greenwood, and some were visitors from Chicago in town for the funeral.

Jonathan Pitts, 42, of Chicago, died at the scene; his sister, Katrina Pitts, 41, also of Chicago, was taken to Greenwood Leflore Hospital, where she later died.

The other eight victims were also hospitalized. Bradley had said earlier this week that he believed the injuries of the other victims were “non-life-threatening” but could not provide an update Thursday.

On the night of Sept. 17, police responded to a call about shots fired on the 100 block of East Johnson Street and found two 34-year-old Greenwood men who had been shot — Larry Montgomery and William McGee Jr.

Montgomery was pronounced dead at the scene; McGee was transported to Greenwood Leflore Hospital, where he later died.

There have been 22 homicides in Greenwood and other parts of Leflore County this year. All but one have involved guns.

Montrell Greene

Dr. Montrell Greene speaks about the need to hold a day of fasting and prayer in response to a surge in gun violence in Greenwood and other parts of Leflore County during a prayer vigil held Thursday in front of Greenwood City Hall.

At the same time the news conference held by city leaders was going on, a group of 12 pastors throughout Leflore County gathered at the front steps of City Hall to hold a prayer vigil.

The collective, named the Christian Pastor’s Coalition for Change and led by Dr. Montrell Greene, is calling for a day of fasting and prayer Monday in response to the surge in gun violence.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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