2 arrested, charged after truck fired upon

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Two Mississippi men are being held on malicious mischief chargesat the Lincoln County Jail after allegedly firing into the cab ofan 18-wheeler during an incident on I-55 early Sunday, an officialsaid.

Ronald Dwayne Simmons, 19, of 6102 Osyka-Progress Rd., Osyka,and Isiah Taplin, 19, of 3124 Highway 51 South, McComb, wereoriginally charged with aggravated assault in the incident, butStaff Sgt. Rod Crawford, public affairs officer for the MississippiHighway Patrol, said the charges were downgraded Monday afternoonpending the results of an investigation by the MHP’s CriminalInvestigative Bureau and the district attorney’s office.

“We charged high in the beginning because a weapon was used,” hesaid.

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The two men are accused of firing a pellet rifle at thecommercial truck.

The malicious mischief charge, a misdemeanor, was determined tobe more appropriate because it denotes the destruction of privateproperty and the value of the property destroyed was less than$500, Crawford said, citing an opinion by the district attorney’soffice.

Crawford said the incident occurred around 2:45 a.m. Sunday witha southbound U.S. Food Services truck driven by James E. Smith, 29,of Jackson.

According to Smith’s statement, Crawford said, Smith moved intothe left lane at the Exit 42 on-ramp to allow a vehicle on theinterstate. As the vehicle came alongside, the front passengerwindow was shattered, allegedly by a gunshot.

Smith followed the vehicle to the Brookway Boulevard exit, whereit got off, Crawford said, citing the statement. Smith continued toExit 38, got off the interstate and dialed 911 to report theincident.

“He gave a complete description of the vehicle, and theBrookhaven Police Department located that vehicle at a fast-foodrestaurant on Brookway Boulevard,” Crawford said.

Simmons and Taplin were identified as the occupants of thevehicle and arrested. A .177 caliber pellet rifle was also found inthe vehicle, Crawford said.