Bond was set at $300,000 Monday for a Starkville man accused of murder.
Dennis Thompson, 18, appeared before Municipal Court Judge Rodney Faver to face one charge of murder and three counts of aggravated assault. Favors accepted the Starkville Police Department”s recommendation Thompson”s bond be set at $150,000 for the murder charge and $50,000 for each charge of aggravated assault.
Dressed in an orange Oktibbeha County Jail shirt and wearing a bulletproof vest, Thompson stood before Faver in Municipal Court flanked on all sides by police officers. He heard charges accusing him of shooting and killing Curtis K. “C.K.” Randle, 25, with a .40 caliber pistol, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. He is also accused of shooting Starkville High School students Devier Outlaw in the arm and abdomen and Azaria Ross in the thigh. East Oktibbeha high-schooler Tony Vincent Harris was also shot in the abdomen. Each aggravated assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Thompson”s parents informed Faver Thompson does not currently have an attorney, but they have spoken to an attorney about retaining his services. Faver set a return date of June 7 for Thompson to appear before the court to determine if he has legal representation or needs a court-appointed attorney.
Following the hearing, Thompson”s father, Dennis Deloach, told reporters his son has been harassed by a local gang for the past five years. Deloach says Thompson was involved in an altercation with the gang following a graduation party at Club 124, at the corner of Highway 182 and D.L. Conner Drive, early Saturday morning just prior to the shooting.
Deloach said he believes one of the gang members “kicking him and stomping him” dropped a pistol, and Thompson grabbed it and began firing randomly to stop his attackers.
Kenyetta Stallings, Thompson”s cousin, said she heard a different version of the story. Like Deloach, she says Thompson has had dealings with the gang for years, but denied he is involved with a rival gang.
“This is an incident that”s been going on for years. We”ve made police reports. The police haven”t done anything.”
Starkville police officials were unavailable for comment Monday evening.
Stallings says members of the group attempting to assault Thompson had sent him threatening text messages and had intentions to kill him, of which police was aware. She says Thompson had been assigned a police escort at school in the past following similar threats.
Starkville Superintendent Judy Couey was unable to comment on the alleged police escort as well as the past behavior of Thompson and the injured students because discipline matters are confidential.
During the melee, Stallings said she heard no gun was dropped, but she was told by witnesses that Thompson had a gun and exchanged gunfire with several members of the group attempting to assault him.
Randle, a security guard at a nearby club, reportedly moved toward the situation when the fight broke out and was shot. His body was found in the middle of Highway 182.
“Truth be told, they really don”t know who killed C.K.,” said Stallings. “It”s not like (Thompson) intentionally shot and tried to kill anybody. If you had 20 to 30 boys and girls running behind you and you”re fleeing for your life, what would you do?”
Witnesses at the scene gave conflicting reports, with some claiming Thompson had a gun on him and others claiming he left the scene after being assaulted and returned with a gun.
Thompson was arrested hours after the shooting as he was reportedly on his way to turn himself over to police.
Dorothy Isaac, past president of the Starkville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, says she knew Thompson and Randle and both were “outstanding people in the community.” She was unaware if the two knew each other.
She says she”s lobbied the board of aldermen unsuccessfully several times to have a curfew implemented.
“Each time I”ve gone before them they said we don”t need a curfew,” said Isaac. “The young people are my concern.”
Thompson, a rising senior at Starkville High School, started at tight end and defensive end for the Yellowjackets football team in 2009.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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