Mississippi Shootings: Six Deaths Stun Small Arkabulta Community

A small community in Mississippi is in shock following a fatal shooting spree on Friday.

Six people were killed by gunfire that rattled four different locations in Arkabutla, according to Reuters. The unincorporated community is about 30 miles south of the Mississippi-Tennessee border and included only 285 residents as of the 2020 U.S. census.

Shortly after the killings, police arrested Richard Dale Crum, 52, charging him with first-degree murder, according to the Tate County Sheriff's Office. He is being held without bond in Tate County Jail. Additional charges are expected to be filed "in the coming days."

Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance told CNN that police were first alerted by a 911 call at around 11 a.m. local time, when, police said, the suspect shot and killed a person parked in a vehicle next to him outside a store in Arkabutla.

Arkabutla Mississippi Mass Shootings Homicide Gun Violence
A crime scene is sealed off with police tape in this undated file photo. Six people on Friday were killed and another was injured in a series of shootings in Arkabutla, Mississippi. Stock Depot

The suspect then drove to the home of his ex-wife, fatally shooting her and striking her fiancé with an object before leaving, police said.

Authorities later found two men who had been killed on a road behind the suspect's residence, while two additional victims were found dead inside a home next door.

Crum was arrested following a short car chase near his home.

A motive for the shootings is unclear and it is believed that they were committed by a lone gunman, according to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.

"I've been briefed on the series of shootings in Tate County," Reeves said in a statement shared to Facebook. "At this time, we believe [the gunman] acted alone. [A] motive is not yet known."

"I will ensure that the full resources of the state are available to law enforcement as we continue to investigate the situation," he added. "Please pray for the victims of this tragic violence and their families at this time."

Arkabutla resident Ethan Cash, who witnessed one of the shootings, told CBS affiliate WREG that he was shocked by the violence, saying, "this is supposed to be a peaceful place, and I don't understand."

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Tate County Sheriff's Office in "the very early stages" of the probe. The sheriff's office said that it was able to "only release a limited amount of information" at the moment.

As of Friday, there had been at least 73 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The group says that gun violence is responsible for over 5,500 deaths and more than 4,100 injuries in 2023.

Newsweek has reached out to the Tate County Sheriff's Office for comment.