Mt. Olivet incident still under investigation; no arrests have been made

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Panola County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating an incident on Mt Olivet Rd. last Friday, July 24, that resulted in the death of a Batesville man.

Michael Gaines, 38, the driver of the vehicle, sustained severe injuries from the incident and where exactly those injuries occurred is part of the investigation. He died Monday, July 27, at North MS Medical Center in Tupelo from those injuries.

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Sheriff Shane Phelps said Tuesday that no arrests have been made in the case and investigators are still working on their leads.

Phelps and District Attorney John Champion held a press conference on Monday at the Sheriff’s Department to ask anyone with information about the case to call the authorities and to help stop the rumors of the incident that have been going around the Batesville area.

Phelps and Champion said several times the investigation has thus far shown that Gaines was not attacked by a group of people. They would not give any details, but want the public to know that drivers on Panola County roads should not be worried about groups of people stopping cars.

There is a rumor that seven people attacked the driver and at this point in the investigation, there is no evidence that multiple people assaulted Gaines, but the investigation is still ongoing and active, and officers expect to know more later, Phelps said.

Champion said law enforcement officers have had calls from concerned citizens who heard that a group of people are attacking motorists. “That is simply not the case,” he said.

“We want to dispel the story that we had citizens trying to help somebody and then they were attacked outside the car,” Champion said. “The rumors that are going around that people were randomly attacked are simply not true.”

“It is currently under investigation and we are looking at every angle. If and when charges are warranted we will look at that,” the DA said.

Phelps said that citizens forget cases are sometimes slow because the investigators have to build on the facts they get, and be sure that every angle is looked at.

“The bottom line is the family deserves justice,” Phelps said. Phelps said everyone who is a victim, and their family, deserves a top-notch investigation and those investigations take a lot of work and a lot of time.

The sheriff also said at this point his case investigators do not believe the victim knew the person, or persons, that caused the death.