Melee in town

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mike Moore viewed the shattered windshield of a new John Deere tractor Saturday morning after a vandal peppered several pieces of equipment and plate glass windows at Wade, Inc. with a pellet gun. Windshields were destroyed on two tractors and a high-wheel sprayer. Three plate glass windows were also shattered by pellet impacts. The Panolian photo by John Howell Sr.

Melee breaks out, spreads through town after party

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville police found themselves faced with a small riot early Sunday morning as a birthday party crowd dispersed from The Eureka and into the Batesville Square.

“Upon arrival I observed approximately 100 subjects either fighting, running towards fights and yelling at fight participants and the responding police,” stated Batesville Police Lieutenant John Miller’s report describing the scene he found when he responded to the call.

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BPD Chief Tony Jones said that as the crowd of juveniles and adults dispersed at midnight, “fights broke out in different groups,” overwhelming the three officers initially available to respond. A video from the stationary video camera located on the dash of one police car recorded individuals and groups running and walking across the street next to the Baker Pavilion, shouting. The voice of an officer to the left of the camera’s field of vision can be heard ordering participants to “Get out!”

The officer recorded on the video can be heard as he radios the BPD dispatcher to summon all available help from off-duty and administrative officers, the Panola County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Four or five deputies from the Panola County Sheriff’s Department were among officers who responded, Jones said.

“As the Eureka was closing, a fight broke out on the Public Square,” Patrolman Donnie Dotson’s report stated. “A large number of individuals were fighting and had become extremely disorderly,” according to Dotson. Dotson had responded to the Square after a call for help from Sgt. Shawn Dalton.

The police car video shows traffic northbound from Eureka to the railroad tracks slowed and stopped as drivers navigated around fight participants and spectators. An ambulance was called to the Square to assist a person who suffered a seizure during the commotion, Jones said.

Dotson arrested a juvenile who threatened to “shoot up the police department,” according to his report. He also arrested James Douglas Bradley Jr. of Marks, charging him with disorderly conduct.

“I placed him into my unit and locked the doors and assisted in gaining control of the fights that were taking place,” Dotson continued.

Miller’s report stated that he confronted a suspect “actively throwing punches at numerous subjects,” whose persistent resistance was eventually quelled with use of a Taser. Vandell Pollard was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in the incident.

As the crowd dispersed into smaller groups, the police department began to receive reports of disturbances in nearby residential areas and later from parking lots at Waffle House and Walmart, the police chief said.

On Sunday, Patrolman Kelvin Morgan investigated a report from a victim in the melee who sought treatment at Tri-Lakes Medical Center’s emergency room. The victim told the officer that he was hit in the head from behind during the melee. His wound required three staples, according to Morgan’s report.

Jones said that the former movie theater facility had been rented for a paid-admission birthday party by Rosemary Atkins.

In other police business:

• BPD investigated reports of burglaries on Friday and Saturday. A resident of 407 1/2 Armstrong Street reported the theft of an air conditioner on April 8, according to a report by Patrolman Shelby Singleton

The following day Lt. Miller investigated the theft of a 42-inch Vizio plasma television from a residence on Jefferies Street.

•Sgt. Dalton was flagged down Saturday by a resident of 123 Vance Street who told the officer that while he was away from his parked car for a few minutes, a CD player was stolen, according to the officer’s report.

•Sgt. Gary Morris took a report from a man who lost his debit card on April 1 but did not miss it until April 3. Unauthorized purchases in Batesville, Como and Sardis totalling $184.75 were recorded.

•A man who parked a trailer at the Shell station at 1185 Highway 6 East on Friday returned the following day and found no trailer, Patrolman Shenika Hudson’s report stated. The trailer was loaded with almost 22 tons of compact scrap aluminum. “Snico” was lettered on the side of the trailer.

•Patrolman Dotson arrested Glenn L. Johnson Saturday night at Pearson Street and Tubbs Road and charged him driving under the influence and with expired licence, no proof of insurance and leaving the scene of an accident, according to the officer’s report.