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Governor says prison violence is under control, addresses gang violence in prisons and the capital city

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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant from his Twitter account

Gov. Phil Bryant addressed the recent spate of violence in Mississippi prisons this morning at a press conference, saying the situation is under control at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Five inmates have been killed in the past week at Mississippi prisons and one escapee remains at large.

Escapee Dillion Williams remains at large.

Bryant emphasized that “gangs are a real threat,” both inside and outside the prisons. Law enforcement inside the prisons need help, he said, and that includes additional funding from the legislature.

He indicated that gang activity is also responsible for the nearly 80 people who died violent deaths last year in the capitol city.

“Gangs not only take lives in correctional facilities but on the streets of Jackson,” Bryant said.

“I’m not blaming. I’m stating a fact,” Bryant said. “The fact is there’s been 79 murders … in Jackson in 2019,” adding, “Most of it is drug-related and gang-related.”

“There’s always been a problem within the prison system,” Bryant responded when asked if MDOC is the problem. “Parchman has 3,500 inmates” he said, and many of them are violent. “That’s a problem.”

Asked if Mississippi should comply with a federal investigation, Bryant said he would welcome the assistance of anyone who wants to help with the state’s investigation. But, he said, “I would encourage them to begin the investigation on the streets of the capital city and throughout the state of Mississippi to try and apprehend more of these that are involved with gangs and are starting at even an earlier age.”

Bryant also targeted people on social media for posting and sharing inmate-supplied photos and videos. Inmates are using illegally obtained cell phones to post on social media from within the prisons. “People will be held accountable,” for bringing contraband into the prisons, he said.

Sharing inmate-supplied media encourages them to continue the violence “You’re making them stars,” Bryant said.

While Bryant clearly put the onus of the recent violence on inmates, he did not spare the legislature’s policy decisions. The governor acknowledged that starting salaries for guards—currently around $25,000 annually—is insufficient for the job, making hiring difficult (Mississippi prisons have fewer than half the guards needed), and he said he has unsuccessfully attempted to get that amount increased during his tenure.

“It doesn’t seem like people care a whole lot about prisons until something goes wrong,” Bryant said.

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Vehicle takes out hydrant and utility pole

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Photo by David Day

A single vehicle collision has taken out a fire hydrant and a utility pole on Cherry at Baum.

Photo by David Day

At 10:40 p.m. E-911 Dispatch received a call that a dark blue Kia SUV had impacted a utility pole on Cherry Street near East. The first officer on scene called in that a fire hydrant had also been impacted and that water was gushing into the roadway.

Photo by David Day

Neither the driver or the passenger of the Kia was injured however a man was taken into custody at the scene.

No disruption of utility services in the area was noted and that traffic was flowing smoothly.

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Crime

High speed chase ends in fiery crash

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(photo by David Day)

A high-speed chase Saturday evening that began near the Waffle House in Vicksburg has ended in a crash in Claiborne County and a vehicle in flames.

First reports indicate the incident began around 5:10 p.m. as an argument at the Waffle House at 4100 Pemberton Square Blvd. A man and woman left the scene and stopped at a Shell gas station on U.S. Highway 61 South where the man pulled the woman, who is pregnant, out of the vehicle by her hair.

The man, Bojara O’Quinn of Claiborne County, then fled, leading Vicksburg police officer Michael Battle on a high-speed chase south on 61 South. The chase exceeded 110 mph at times.

The chase ended just inside the Claiborne County line on Shiloh Road in a crash where the vehicle, reportedly a rental with Illinois plates, burst into flames. The crash occurred right at 5:30 p.m.

O’Quinn is in custody and received minor injuries in the crash. The woman involved received very minor injuries and is apparently safe.

Deputies with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department, and troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol assisted in O’Quinn’s capture.

Bojara O’Quinn (photo by David Day)

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Crime

Woman in custody for Friday’s shooting over a parking space

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UPDATE: Akeyah Daniels, 26, of Vicksburg, appeared before Judge Penny Lawson on Saturday in Vicksburg Municipal Court. Lawson set her bond at $50,000 and bound her over to the Warren County grand jury.

Original story:

The woman is in custody in connection with a shooting that occurred Friday, allegedly over a parking space.

The shooting took place around 3:30 p.m. Friday at an apartment building at 2230 Grove St. in Vicksburg.

Akeyah Daniels, 26, turned herself in to Vicksburg police officers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. She was arrested at the police station.

Three men were also briefly detained and released in connection with the shooting, according to the Vicksburg police.

Daniels faces one count of drive-by shooting is being held without bond until her initial appearance, which is taking place Saturday.

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