An argument between a man and woman breaking off their romantic relationship led to a Sunday morning shootout in the Cotton District, according to police.
Four were hospitalized and two arrested in the incident, which occurred just before 1 a.m. at 601 University Drive in the parking lot behind the Marathon “Coconuts in the Grove” gas station. Multiple gunmen were involved and shooting at each other, police said.
When officers responded, they found two individuals shot at the scene and quickly apprehended two others involved near McDonald’s on Highway 12 East.
Eric Jefferson, 20, and Zahied Logan, 20, both from Macon, were treated at OCH Regional Medical Center from gunfire wounds but were released and are currently in Oktibbeha County Jail each on two counts of aggravated assault.
A third unnamed suspect is still being treated at OCH and will be charged upon discharge, SPD Public Information Officer Brandon Lovelady said. Police are seeking a fourth suspect, Jallel Jones, 24, of Mathiston.
An unnamed female victim, the girlfriend of the dispute, was also treated at OCH and has been released.
“This, unfortunately, is another event where individuals are making bad decisions, allowing their emotions to go, decide to settle it by pulling a gun and pulling the trigger,” Ballard said during a press conference Sunday evening.
The officers who responded were already stationed in the Cotton District, helping with crowd control from the weekend NCAA baseball Regional hosted at Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field. They arrived two minutes after the reported call.
Ballard said officers applied tourniquets, devices that attach to a ligament to stop blood flow, to some of the individuals and potentially saving their lives.
“I sincerely believe if the officers had not been in the area as fast as what they were, these injuries would have maybe been a lot more significant, and we would have perhaps had a loss of life,” Ballard said.
This incident adds to the chain of violent acts Starkville has seen over the last three months, including a double homicide on Pilcher Street March 3, a teen killed in an Easter shooting, a gunman repeatedly shooting at a car at Reed Place Apartments April 12, a teen shot in the leg at Brookville Garden Apartments April 17 and a shooting in McKee Park April 20.
Coconuts is located near the Cotton District, the “heart of Starkville” and a place often visited by various residents and somewhere that has not seen a violent act in the recent months, Ballard said. While this shooting happened in one of Starkville’s prominent residential areas, he said the situation is no threat to the public because it involved a domestic argument where the individuals already knew each other.
“My understanding from this group is that they weren’t going to the District,” Lay said. “They were parking here and listening to music and drinking and just hanging out. This just happened to be the location they were at when all of this wound up happening.”
Ballard said starting this weekend, SPD will begin new procedures for loitering control in the area surrounding the Cotton District, which will include more supervision not just for the Cotton District but also in areas such as the Coconuts parking lot.
“Our no loitering approach on the weekends moving forward from here to the foreseeable future, we’re going to do a lot more focus on enforcement of the loitering and blocking the traffic from the District,” Ballard said.