Officers under fire in chase
ARM – A Philadelphia man spared the life of his five-year-oldson before killing his wife and himself to end a three-county chaseduring which officers received automatic weapons fire Thursday,authorities said.
The couple was being sought in the deaths of two people inPerkinston, near Wiggins, earlier in the day.
Edgar Justin Meyer, 30, of 357 Forrest Avenue, Biloxi, and AmberMarie Anderson-Meyer, 22, of 13301 Hudson Crohn Road, Biloxi, werefound dead in the woods behind a residence in Arm after beingconfined to a small area by more than 150 law enforcement officialsfrom across south Mississippi early Thursday afternoon.
The incident began around 6:30 a.m. in Stone County when theMeyers went to “retrieve” Justin Meyer’s five-year-old son from hisex-wife, according to Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames. Hebrought with him an AK47 assault rifle and a semi-automaticpistol.
Donna L. DeFelippo, Meyer’s ex-wife and her boyfriend, Johnny R.Watts Jr., were killed in an apparent custody dispute during theincident.
“Something happened,” Thames said. “It got ugly and they werekilled.”
A 10-year-old son of DeFelippo’s, who was not Meyer’s, was notharmed during the double homicide. The 10-year-old dialed 911 andreported the incident.
Not long after the homicides were reported, a 33-year-old nursefrom the Perkinston area, Richard Walker, was shot in the neck andhand while driving to work at Forrest General Hospital inHattiesburg, according to the Stone County Sheriff’s Department.Walker drove to a residence and received assistance.
Authorities do not know why Meyer opened fire on Walker, but theshooting was confirmed by Meyer’s five-year-old son, who was withthem in the truck, according to a Stone County spokesperson.
The Meyers were next sighted in Columbia when two agents withthe Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force were fired upon, Thamessaid.
Agents Chad McElveen and Bobby Patterson were on their way to a9 a.m. law enforcement meeting in separate, unmarked vehicles whenthey fell in behind the Meyers’ truck.
“Evidently, Mr. Meyers looked behind him and saw one of theagent’s vehicles and recognized him as law enforcement,” Thamessaid. “He assumed they were on him. He slid the glass back on thetruck and fired several rounds from an assault rifle.”
McElveen was not hit by the gunfire, but suffered minor injurieswhile protecting himself. He jumped out of his vehicle and dovebehind it for cover. At least 19 rounds struck his vehicle duringthe attack.
Meyer, however, jumped into his pickup bed and continuedshooting while his wife drove the Isuzu pickup. They fled down HighSchool Avenue.
Meyer then held a man at gunpoint on High School Avenue andstole his black, late model Ford F-150 pickup.
Police and Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers later spotted thecouple on Highway 13 near Goss and began chasing the truck as Meyerfired at them.
Richard Johnson, a Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Officedeputy, was forced to back off when bullets began striking the roadaround his car, he said. His car was never hit.
“I saw him and the lady in the truck,” Johnson said. “I did notsee the child.”
Law enforcement officials lost sight of the Meyers because ofthe withering gunfire when they made a turn, Johnson said.
While their location was unknown, according to authorities, theMeyers stopped at the home of Diane Daniels on J.W. Daniels Road inLawrence County. They demanded and received her car keys, but foran undetermined reason left in the F-150.
“They must have gotten spooked by something,” said New HebronPolice Chief George “Junior” Walker.
The couple was sighted on J.W. Daniels Road when Thames andWalker, in separate vehicles with Walker trailing, rounded a cornerand Thames’ vehicle was hit by a sustained burst of automaticweapons fire. At least seven bullets struck the car, including onewhich struck the headrest only inches from his head, Thamessaid.
He dove to the floor of the car and it veered to the right andentered a ditch. Walker’s right front tire was shot out in the sameattack.
“I’m here only by the grace of God,” Thames said. “I’m justthankful he didn’t pull over and empty into the car.”
Thames said Walker jumped into his car and they tried tocontinue the pursuit, but the car only went about 100 feet beforeit started smoking and stopped. They had to change the tire onWalker’s car before rejoining the chase.
“He was using armor-piercing rounds” in the assault rifle,Walker said, indicating it was possible the rounds did some engineand transmission damage to Thames’ car. “There was a lot of fluidon the ground.”
Around 11 a.m., Thames said, Lawrence County deputies TimDaughdrill and Adrian Ready discovered the truck parked behind thehome of the Rev. Eddie Myers about five miles south of Arm near NewZion Missionary Baptist Church, Thames said. The Myers’ had leftthe day before on a mission trip.
The Meyers had broken into the home, but nothing appeared to bedisturbed, Thames said. They then hid the five-year-old in aChevrolet pickup parked at the house and fled into the woods.
Daughdrill and Ready found the boy and he was sent with anofficer to Columbia, where a law enforcement helicopter wasbringing his maternal grandfather to pick him up.
“He advised his dad had run into the woods,” Thames said.
The Meyers’ bodies were found about 100-150 feet behind a shedin the woods, according to Thames. A K-9 team from WashingtonParish, La., found the dead couple around 12:30 p.m.
Both appeared to die from single gunshot wounds to the head,according to Lawrence County Coroner Dr. Joe Ward.
Thames said it looked like Meyer had shot his wife and thenturned the gun on himself.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Johnson said. “I hate it ended this way. Ihad hoped he would surrender, but I’m glad it’s over.”
Ironically, this week is being observed nationwide to honorofficers slain in the line of duty.
“I’m just glad we don’t have one of those here today,” Thamessaid.
Thames said he appreciated the support of the other lawenforcement agencies on the scene, which included Troops C, J, Mand R and a helicopter of the MHP; Lawrence, Marion, Lincoln,Simpson, Jefferson Davis and Walthall County sheriff departments;Monticello, Prentiss, Bassfield, New Hebron, Columbia andBrookhaven police departments; agents with the Department ofWildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics,with agents and two helicopters; and the Mississippi Department ofCorrections, among others.