A gunman killed six people, including his ex-wife and stepfather, at several locations in a small rural community in northern Mississippi on Friday, a sheriff said, leaving investigators looking for clues as to who the perpetrator was has motivated a tantrum.
Armed with a rifle and two pistols, 52-year-old Richard Dale Krum opened fire at around 11am. Killed a man in the driver’s seat of a pickup truck parked outside a convenience store in Arkabutla, near the Tennessee state line, in Tate County, said Sheriff Brad Lance.
Police officers were working on the scene when a second 911 call notified authorities of another shooting several miles away. When they got home, they found a woman, whom the sheriff identified as crum’s ex-wife, shot dead and her current husband injured.
Lance says deputies caught Crum outside his own home and arrested him. Behind the residence, they found two workers dead from gunshots – one in the street, one in an SUV. At a neighbour’s house, they find the bodies of Crum’s stepfather and his stepfather’s sister.
Everyone commits a crime, and we commit violent crimes from time to time, but definitely not on that scale, Lance said in an interview. He added, without being able to say what caused it, that’s the scary part.
Crum, 52, is being held without bail on one count of murder and Lance said investigators were working on additional charges. It is not known whether Krum has an attorney who can speak for him.
The original murder charge involved killing Chris Eugene Boyce, 59, the man who was shot outside the store. Boyce’s brother was in the truck with him at the time and fled, according to the sheriff. Lance added that Krum chased the brothers through a forest area before escaping unharmed.
Deputy Tate County Coroner Ernie Lenz identified the others who were killed as Debra Krum, 60; Charles Manuel, 76; John Rory, 59; George McCain, 73; and Linda McCain, 78. Lenz also said Boyce is from Lakeland, Florida.
Ethan Cash, who lives near the shop, told WREG-TV he heard gunshots coming from his home.
I just woke up and I looked back and I saw a man coming back here with a shotgun, he said.
Cash added that he went to the crime scene and found one person who had been shot. He looked for a pulse but found none.
In the lobby of the sheriff’s office, Norma Washington told the Associated Press that Boyce was her nephew. He said he and his brother Doug, who lives in Alaska, were in town cleaning up the property they inherited from their late uncle.
I lost my brother and now this one, Washington said. It’s something else.
It is unclear whether Krum knew any of the brothers.
The killing shocked residents of Arkabutla, home to 285 people and about 30 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. It is the hometown of famous actor James Earl Jones, and nearby Lake Arkabutla is a popular fishing and recreational destination.
According to the Coldwater Elementary School Facebook page, an elementary and high school near Coldwater have been locked down while a search is underway for suspects. A second post on the site later said the lockdown had been lifted and all students and staff are safe.
April Wade, who lives in Arcabutla and grew up in Coldwater, says the two are small communities where most people know each other, but if you don’t know each other, you know someone who knows someone.
Speaking at a local tire shop in the afternoon, Wade said she and her husband were aware of the shooting but had not heard the name of the suspect or victim.
I thought it was crazy, Wade said. You don’t expect something like this to happen so close to your house.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said its agents were assisting the state’s sheriff’s department and investigators. Lance says one of his top priorities is establishing a motive. The sheriff, who has lived in the area his whole life and served in law enforcement for 25 years, said he couldn’t remember any prior issues with Crum.