Bad Weekend In Jones County
Three self-inflicted gunshots, one in front of deputies
On Saturday, Cpl. Jason Mills and Deputy Denny Graham saved a man who had overdosed. On Sunday, they watched helplessly as a man took his life right in front of them. It was one of three self-inflicted gunshot wounds that the Jones County Sheriff's Department worked over the weekend.
"It was a bad weekend," Sheriff Joe Berlin said. "It's unfortunate for the families, but it's unfortunate for us, too."
Deputies responded to a call of a man threatening suicide at a residence on Sharon-Moss Road on Sunday afternoon. He was in woods behind the house sitting in a chair with a shotgun, according to reports.
"He agreed to talk to one deputy, but when he moved closer, he pulled the trigger," Berlin said.
Mills and Graham - who had teamed up to save a man who was overdosing a day earlier - along with Deputy James Bell witnessed it, and Sgt. Adam Cochran and Deputy Howard Chandler also responded.
They were immediately sent to the JCSD Training Center for LEAP (Law Enforcement Assistance Program) counseling with Nick Messersmith and department chaplain/deputy Curt Pitts, Berlin said.
"We have to make sure they're mentally and physically OK," said Berlin, who also called and talked to each one. "They were shook up, which is normal. It's just unfortunate. It's a bad ending to a bad situation."
Around 4 a.m. Saturday, deputies responded to another report of a man threatening suicide on Norton Road. That person pulled the trigger as deputies drove up and was reportedly in critical condition at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg as of early Monday afternoon.
Mills and Graham went to a residence on Highway 590 in southwest Jones County just after noon on Saturday and found family members performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a man who had a faint pulse but was not breathing on his own.
Mills administered two doses of nasal Narcan, and the antidote for opioid overdose quickly took effect. The man regained respiratory and cardiac functions and was transported by EMServ Ambulance Service to South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel.
"Outstanding work by Cpl. Jason Mills, assisted by Deputy Denny Graham, in administering nasal Narcan to this overdosed male, which saved his life," Berlin said.
JCSD deputies, investigators, narcotics agents and correctional facilities are provided nasal Narcan at no cost by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.
"We are proud of the work of our personnel in saving lives of those who have overdosed on opioids," Berlin said.
But the losses take their toll on the people who wear the badges, too, Berlin said.
"We don't want to see anyone hurt themselves," he said. "We're trained to talk people down."
Because of that, deputies can sometimes second-guess themselves when there's a bad outcome, which is why they're sent to talk to counselors - and counselors are made available to them in the future, too.
Also on Saturday, deputies responded to another suicide attempt by a man who had consumed brake fluid on North Eastabuchie Road.
Then early Monday morning, they responded to a report of a woman who was believed to have shot and killed herself at a residence on R.R. Gordon Road in the Powers Community. That incident was still under investigation.
"This wasn't a normal weekend, but it's part of the job," Berlin said. "We have to take the good with the bad, and we're prepared to do that, mentally and physically."
Tragedy has become a little too normal in the Powers Community in the last year or so, with two murder-suicides, two violent domestic deaths and an elderly woman and her caregiver son being found after dying of natural causes.
It's been tough on volunteers, too, as they often know the people involved.
"Our Powers firefighters and emergency responders have seen more in a year than many crews do in a lifetime of service," said Lance Chancellor of Powers Fire and Rescue and the JCSD. "It's been difficult."