It’s really murder to just shoot down an unarmed man’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Pamela Williams of Tallulah explains the events that led to the shooting death of her cousin Melvin Guy. (the Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

TALLULAH Relatives of a man shot and killed here by police on Thanksgiving said Tuesday he was shot four times and shackled as he lay bleeding, only to die an hour later at Madison Parish Hospital.

“It’s really murder to just shoot down an unarmed person,” said Melvin Guy’s aunt, Echemuna Long of Monroe. “It’s just senseless. It’s a senseless shooting.”

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Tallulah Police and Madison Parish Sheriff’s Department sources have declined to answer questions about the case that is being investigated by Louisiana State Police.

Guy, 23, was accused of jumping bail on a charge of simple escape from Madison Parish Jail in June. After evading police for five months, he was trying to hide out at another aunt’s home in a Tallulah housing project when authorities caught up with him just before daylight.

Guy sneaked into his aunt’s house at Madison Community Apartments through an unlocked window during the night on Nov. 22 and hid in an unused back bedroom, said his cousin, Pamela Williams, who shares the apartment.

“We didn’t even know he was up in here,” Williams said. She was up feeding her baby when the police came knocking on the door around 6 a.m. to serve an arrest warrant.

The state police spokesman said six Tallulah police officers and two Madison Parish deputies went to the housing complex to arrest Guy.

Williams said she opened the door for the officers, and Guy darted out a back window. Several officers chased him through the apartment, while others went around the outside.

What happened next is far from clear.

Williams said she heard at least six shots and saw two different officers firing at her cousin as he ran around a corner. When she got close enough to see him, he was face down on the ground, surrounded by police.

“They handcuffed him and shackled his feet after he’d already been shot,” Williams said. “Why did they have to do that? He wasn’t going anywhere.”

His mother arrived a short time later, and he called out to her when he saw her, but his mother told him to call on God, instead, Williams said.

Police threatened to arrest his mother if she got too close, and would not let her ride with her son in the ambulance, she said.

“That was her last time with her son, but she didn’t know it yet,” Williams said.

Guy’s parents have made no public comments about their son’s death, but have said they plan to take legal action against the City of Tallulah.

Madison Parish Coroner Dr. Tommy Neumann said Guy was pronounced dead at the hospital of a wound to the back, inflicted by a single shot from a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot.

Neumann said that what looked like several gunshot wounds were actually created by spreading buckshot pellets.

But Tassie Anderson, his aunt who rents the apartment where he was hiding, said she saw his body at the hospital later that day, and saw four distinct gunshot wounds: two in the back, one in the leg and one in the back of his head.

Anderson works nights, and was at work when the shooting happened, she said.

“He wasn’t really no violent person,” Anderson said. “They didn’t like him because they couldn’t catch him.”

Her nephew was a jokester, and enjoyed taunting police who never seemed to be able to catch up with him, she said. He had hidden from police up trees, ridden away on a tricycle and used a dozen other creative techniques to avoid capture, she said.

“It was a game to him,” Anderson said. “He didn’t know they were going to shoot him down like that.”

Friends and relatives of Guy are planning to protest in front of City Hall after his funeral on Friday, she said.

Lt. Lee Harrell of the state police has said that Guy did not shoot at police, but would not say whether he was armed. Members of his family insist that he had no gun.

Harrell said that, in addition to the escape charge, Guy was wanted on charges of resisting police, assault and battery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and indecent behavior with a juvenile.