Mississippi police chief, sheriff express concerns over shooting guns on New Year’s Eve — one man reportedly shot 56 rounds into air

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

Natchez officials plan to address the problem of people shooting guns in city limits during a special-called meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen at 3:30 p.m. today.

Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said he planned to approach the board about changing the city’s ordinance about discharging firearms in response to several different incidents of unlawful shooting. Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson and Alderwoman Valencia Hall declined to comment on the city’s ordinance before the board meeting.

That is something that we’ll be discussing today,” Hall said.

On New Year’s Eve, a woman was struck in the shoulder by a stray bullet that penetrated the ceiling of Magnolia Bluff’s Casino, Daughtry said, adding Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to it.

“It’s by God’s grace that this woman wasn’t injured,” Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said of the incident.” He added no one had been arrested in this case.

“So many rounds were fired that night in the city and the county that we have not identified any suspects to this particular incident,” Patten said.

“We try to encourage people not to shoot in the air on New Year’s Eve. It is the most dangerous and reckless tradition that there is. This year, a stray bullet came through the ceiling and hit a lady on the shoulder. She was not hurt and it didn’t break her skin or anything. What goes up must come down. If you shoot and your bullet goes up and kills somebody, we’re going to charge you with manslaughter—possibly even murder. It is not the guns that kill people but people who misuse guns. I wish citizens would take this matter seriously.”

Daughtry commended the SO deputies and casino workers for taking care of the woman and making sure she was OK. He also said that this was not the only shooting that occurred on New Year’s Eve.

Police arrested one man, Joey Walker, 41, who allegedly fired 56 rounds into the air that night, and charged him with violation of a municipal criminal ordinance for shooting inside city limits, Daughtry said.

“Afterward he said, ‘I don’t know what I was thinking,’” Daughtry said of Walker. He added the dangerous custom of shooting guns in the air on the holiday is not just a problem in Natchez but across the nation.

“Across the country, people were shooting on New Year’s Eve, but here in Natchez, we’re doing the best we can to corral those people up and put a stop to it. We were able to enforce the law and make one arrest that night. If we catch it, we’re going to prosecute it.”

According to the city’s municipal ordinance, Walker could be fined $500 and face 10 days in jail if found guilty, Daughtry said. For subsequent offenses, violators of the law could face up to 30 days in jail and have to pay a $1,000 fine.

However, Daughtry said more needs to be done.

“It angers me,” he said. “The law of physics is what goes up must come down. If you’re shooting in the air, that bullet has to land somewhere.”

Multiple Downtown Natchez residents were also rattled “rapid gunfire” at approximately 11 p.m. on Tuesday near the Zipy Food Store at 320 Martin Luther King St.

Daughtry said shell casings and projectiles were recovered from the area, including some that landed inside a house in a neighborhood close by.

The store lies in close proximity to houses, a church, Cathedral School and several other businesses. No suspects have been identified.

Daughtry encouraged anyone with information to contact the Natchez Police Department at 601-445-5565 or Southwest Mississippi Regional Crime Stoppers at 888-442-5001 to leave an anonymous tip.