Danielle Price was asked to do something Tuesday evening she never dreamed she would have to, but it was a task that will haunt her the rest of her life.
The Artesia resident, along with her mother, identified the body of her cousin, Mauricio Lamarcus Nance, one of three men found dead from apparent gunshots in a mobile home in the small Lowndes County town.
Price was at a loss as to why anyone would want to kill Nance – and how something so awful could happen in Artesia.
“He was real sweet, kind-hearted,” she said, adding he would help anyone who needed it. “I have to pray real hard about this one.
“(This has) never happened in Artesia,” she added. “Never. First time anything like this ever happened around here.”
Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant identified Nance, 22, of Columbus, along with Demario Snell, 31, of Artesia, and Tyshun Bernard Fields, 24, of Crawford, as the deceased.
Sheriff Mike Arledge told The Dispatch late Tuesday officers had a person of interest detained for questioning.
Officials held a press conference at Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday morning to ask for the public’s help during the investigation. Arledge said Artesia residents are deeply concerned and have so far been cooperating with investigators.
He and Major Greg Wright, who heads LCSO’s investigative division, both said they had never investigated a triple homicide and that they couldn’t think of any that had occurred in Lowndes County within the last couple of decades.
“Call us if you have any information,” Arledge said. “This is a tragedy. I know the community is grieving. I know the family is grieving.”
Law enforcement responded to 23 Mobile Dr., just off Ellis Loop near downtown Artesia, just before 4 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a call reporting a shooting at the residence.
For hours deputies, eventually with the assistance of Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents, cordoned off and processed the scene while the victims’ family, friends, neighbors and other shocked bystanders gathered as close as they could.
At about 7:30, some of the bystanders formed a prayer circle a few yards away from the crime scene tape blocking the road. Timothy Bourne, pastor of Beulah Grove Full Gospel Baptist Church in Artesia, led the prayer lamenting the lives lost.
“It’s an immediate shock,” Bourne said of the shooting. “People don’t know what to think. … But when you begin to process it, you never want anything like this ever to occur.”
He said he hoped the community would rely on faith while dealing with the tragedy.
“Even in the middle of a bad situation, God can bring newness,” he said.
One of those in the prayer circle, neighbor Artesia Williams, said “never in a million years” would she have expected the shooting in her town.
She said she knew all three of the victims, including Snell who she said lived in the home where the shooting took place. Like Price, she couldn’t give a reason why someone would want to kill him.
“He was cool with everybody,” Williams said. “That’s why it was shocking to hear that.”
She said all three victims were friends and she had grown up with them.
“It’s a small town,” she said. “You can’t help but know everybody.
“This is a hit for Artesia,” she added.
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call LCSO at 662-328-6788 or Golden Triangle Crime Stoppers at 1-800-530-7151.