Is a Fake Cop Murdering Miss. Motorists?
[5/18/2012 Update: Mississippi police arrested the suspected highway shooter, 28-year-old James D. Willie, after ballistic tests allegedly matched his handgun to bullet casings found near the two murder victims. Fears of a police impersonator were unfounded, the Associated Press reports. Investigators are now trying to determine a motive for the murders.]
Authorities in Mississippi are warning drivers about a possible fake police officer who may be pulling drivers over and then shooting them dead.
Two drivers were found shot and killed in two separate incidents in northern Mississippi last week, CNN reports. "The concern is that someone is posing as a law enforcement officer, and that is how these vehicles end up on the side of the road," the director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said Monday.
The MBI is warning drivers to be wary if an officer attempts to pull them over, and suggests two courses of action if a driver is suspicious about a traffic stop Mississippi:
- Under Mississippi law, drivers can call 911 to verify that they're being pulled over by a legitimate police officer.
- Drivers can also put on their flashing hazard lights and drive to a well-lit area with lots of people around, before stopping for a police officer.
The first alleged fake police officer shooting took place May 8, along Interstate 55 in Panola County, Miss. A 74-year-old Nebraska man was killed, the Associated Press reports.
Then on Friday, a 48-year-old Mississippi woman was found shot and killed near her car along Mississippi Highway 713 in nearby Tunica County.
Both victims were found in the early-morning hours. Investigators are analyzing bullet casings found near both bodies, the AP reports.
At this point, the fake police officer explanation is just a theory, as there were no witnesses to the killings. Police and sheriff's agencies are saturating the area to find the suspect, according to the AP.
If the alleged fake police officer is caught, the killer will likely face murder charges. In addition, impersonating a police officer is a misdemeanor in Mississippi, punishable by up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.
- MHP: Fake cop may be responsible for 2 homicides (Jackson, Miss.' WAPT-TV)
- Mississippi Criminal Laws (FindLaw)
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- Tulsa Shooting Suspects Held on $9M Bail Each (FindLaw's Blotter)