Featured Story-Handgun found

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Before searchers walked the road side, Panola County Road Department foreman Kirk Reece maneuvered a county tractor with a bush cutter on an extended arm to clear away vines and briars.

Using poles to probe through thick, ground-hugging vegetation, members of the Panola County Search and Rescue Squad look for the handgun.

D’wayne Vest, using a flashlight as a pointer, highlights the pistol shortly after it was located Sunday morning. Searchers and law enforcement officials included (from right) Daniel Cole, Earl Burdette and Clint Roberson. Smiles soon broke out as searchers spotted the black pistol lying askew in the mud.

Successful searchers included Panola County Search and Rescue Squad members (from left) Mitchell Daughtery, Betty Tillman, Larry Warner, Tanya West, D’wayne Vest, Jacob West, Tommy Parrish, Daniel Cole, and Clint Roberson.  

The large caliber, semi-automatic handgun lay on its side in the mud of the ditch along Old Panola Road.

Searchers locate handgun following Saturday shooting

By John Howell

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.

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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.