Town shocked, saddened by slaying

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 10, 2009

Things like this don’t happen in Wesson.

That’s what the people of the small town that almost straddlesthe Lincoln and Copiah County line keep saying after the Tuesdayslaying of popular local pawn shop owner Denmon Ward.

“I feel like Wesson is safer than any town I know. This is justsomething uncalled for,” said service station owner and localfixture Kenneth Furr.

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Erik Hollie, 24, was arrested Wednesday morning and officialssaid the motive appears to be armed robbery. He is now being heldwithout bond in the Copiah County jail on charges of capital murderand armed robbery.

But having Hollie in jail is little comfort to townspeople whocan’t even remember Wesson’s last murder.

“It’s happened once in my lifetime that a man was shot in town,but I don’t even remember when exactly that was,” said Furr, 81.”We just don’t have things like this happen here.”

Los Lobos Mexican Restaurant co-owner Angie Moore said Ward usedto come into her restaurant for lunch almost every day before herecently relocated to Wesson from Lincoln County.

“We’re surprised and shocked, and still very saddened,” shesaid. “He used to eat here every day. He was a really niceman.”

Those sentiments were echoed by many Wesson residents who knewWard. He was a good man, they said. The kind of man who would finda way to help people in need, no matter what it took.

His store window even bears a sign that says, “We loan money onanything of value.” Now a temporary sign in the window says,”Closed Until.”

Stanley Martin of Wesson said he knew Ward, and always thoughthighly of him.

“He was a really good guy, I never heard anything bad abouthim,” he said of Ward.

And Wesson Police Sgt. Troy Floyd said having Hollie locked awaymight offer the people of Wesson some relief.

“I’m really glad for the citizens that we’ve got him incustody,” he said. “If that brings them a sigh of relief, then thathelps a little.”

But some citizens say it’s made them look at the streets oftheir small town a little differently.

“In this world and time, this can happen anywhere,” said AceHardware employee Mark Stevens.

And Furr agreed, saying that he’s glad that his business isright across the street from the police department.

“I used to get a little scared getting here so early in themorning, but the police are right there,” he said.

Moore said things will be a little different security-wise ather restaurant as well.

“Of course we take security seriously, and we walk our girls outto their cars after close so that nobody has to go outside alone,”she said.

But vigilance is of the essence, Martin said.

“Wesson’s just a good town, but this can happen anywhere,” hesaid. “It’s sad to say this is a part of life, and you’ve justgotta know where you’re going.”