CANTON, Miss. (AP) — A man fatally shot a defendant waiting outside a county courthouse in a historic Mississippi town Monday morning, and a suspect is in custody, according to law enforcement officials.
The suspect has been arrested and is in jail, Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said, but he declined to identify him.
Tucker and Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said they don't know why the suspect would have shot the victim, 37-year-old Kendrick Armond Brown. Brown was facing charges of selling cocaine and was a habitual offender who had been sentenced to prison time on past drug counts, according to an indictment dated Feb. 10.
Brown was expected to appear in court Monday on the latest drug charges but was not a witness or a suspect in other current criminal cases, Guest said.
A relative of the suspect was wounded in a shooting just two days earlier, but officials didn't know whether the two shootings were linked, Guest said. Saturday's shooting also was in Canton, Guest said, and a female victim who was an informant and was related to the suspect underwent surgery. No other details about that shooting were released, and the Canton police chief couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
In the courthouse shooting, the suspect got out of a car, walked up and shot the victim once with a semiautomatic handgun, Tucker said. Deputies emerged from the courthouse, and the suspect laid down the handgun and was arrested without a struggle, Tucker said.
The victim was hit in the chest and died on the scene, Tucker said. He described the shooting as unfolding quickly.
In the courtyard, two semicircles of four benches surround a flagpole. Law enforcement officials searched with metal detectors under crepe myrtle trees, looking for the shell from the handgun. But despite an hour of sifting through pine straw, Tucker said, authorities hadn't found the shell.
There are metal detectors inside the courthouse door, but the parking lot is open to the public and unguarded. The Canton Police Department sits at the rear of the parking lot, less than 200 yards from the front door of the courthouse.
District Attorney Michael Guest said the victim had been waiting outside the courthouse with his lawyer, Rusty Willard. Prosecutors expected that the victim would reject a plea offer and the judge would set the case for trial, Guest said.
Guest said he thought there was little that deputies could have done to prevent the shooting. "There would have been, in my opinion, no way this could have been stopped," Guest said.
Canton is the seat of Madison County, just north of Jackson. It's a historic antebellum town with about 13,000 people and is known for its Christmas light festival on the town square. The south end of the county is a rapidly growing suburb, while the northern half is poorer and a more traditional part of the South. Canton also is the home of a Nissan assembly plant that employs more than 6,000 people.
The 1996 movie "A Time to Kill," based on John Grisham's novel, was filmed in part at the courthouse. In the movie, a father played by Samuel L. Jackson goes to court and kills two men on trial over the rape of his daughter.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.