Searchers on Sunday morning quickly located a handgun that was believed to have been tossed from a car on Old Panola Road Saturday afternoon occupied by four men suspected of fleeing a drive-by shooting in Sardis.
The four men were taken into custody near Old Panola Road’s intersection with Highway 310 around 4:30 p.m. Saturday after Panola Deputy Sheriff Earl Burdette spotted the vehicle traveling north and intercepted it. The deputy said he spotted an gun thrown from the fleeing auto’s window.
The men were taken to the Panola County jail. Charges are expected to be filed on Monday when identities of the men will also be released.
The Saturday drive-by shooting into a Sardis home followed several incidents that are believed to be the result of gang rivalries that have cropped up in several locations in the county.
Members of the Panola County Search and Rescue gathered shortly after 8:30 a.m. Sunday to search the dense clusters of vines and briars growing in the ditch-side right-of-way on Old Panola Road, just north of its intersection with Dunlap Road. A county tractor with a bush cutter on an extended arm made several passes to clear the thick vegetation. The searchers walked in close proximity to each other on the east side of the road, looking for the weapon.
In less than 10 minutes, a searcher, pointing down into the sheared vines, shouted, “Here, it is.” Instantly, everyone was smiling, including Burdette, who said he had “marked” the spot when he had sped past it the day before, using a “candy-stripe” roadside caution sign as his landmark. The large caliber, black, semi-automatic handgun lay pristine on its side.
Authorities are expected to compare the handgun with a number of spent cartridges that have been collected as evidence during investigations of recent shootings.
Additional details will be published in the Tuesday print edition.