Standoff, explosion followed up with search

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003

Federal agents followed up Wednesday’s standoff on Halls Ferry Road by searching the Louisiana home of the man who apparently blew himself up to avoid capture.

No explosives, however, were reported seized Thursday at the Delta home of James “Gee Gee” Alexander, who was 41.

“They didn’t get anything,” said Mettie Ruth Alexander, the dead man’s mother. “They can’t do anything now anyway, he’s gone,” she said.

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A series of explosions followed by fire ended a 13-hour impasse between Alexander and local and federal authorities who had been trying to get him to surrender. Alexander, who wasn’t allowed to have a weapon because he had served prison time, was wanted on federal charges of having a gun and had been tracked to the motor home.

About 30 minutes before the 2:40 p.m. series of blasts, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said Alexander had stopped talking to them.

Ken Chisholm, resident agent in charge for the Jackson Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm office, said a 9-mm submachine gun called a sten gun was found in the debris after the fire. The gun and other pieces of the motor home were laid out on a tarp at the scene and were to be sent to an ATF crime lab for testing, Chisholm said.

“We will go through each piece and see if it is evidentiary,” he said.

Family members and friends watched and waited in Delta, a small community across the river bridge from Vicksburg, as agents carried out the search of Alexander’s home.

“We weren’t coming here to put someone in jail, said Wade Rasberry, resident agent in charge for the Shreveport, La., office of the ATF. “We were here for the public’s safety.” If there were any kind of items, explosives or otherwise, that posed a threat to the community, the ATF and local authorities would be remiss not to locate and remove those items to avoid another tragedy.”

Agents from ATF, officers from the Madison Parish Sheriff Department, the Louisiana State Police and Delta Police Department were involved in the search, Rasberry said.

Additionally, agents used what Rasberry called a “bomb dog,” a specially trained ATF dog for bomb and firearm protection.

He said they were searching for explosives or related items, but would not comment on items removed from the home.

Agents left a list in the house of the removed items, Rasberry said. Alexander’s mother said she owns the acre lot that includes a trailer owned by her son and a trailer she owns and lives in and that no explosives were found.

The standoff began at 1:30 a.m. when deputies attempted to arrest Alexander. Traffic was rerouted around the area during the day as more and more local state and federal agents arrived.

Authorities have not confirmed what caused the explosions. A statement from federal authorities says James Alexander killed himself to avoid capture.

Deputies had pulled Alexander over Monday night on Fisher Ferry Road, and he reportedly ran on foot into nearby woods, leaving behind crystal methamphetamine and a pistol in the car. He was also being sought by ATF on federal gun charges in Mississippi and Louisiana, although authorities would not discuss the specifics of those charges.

Alexander reportedly fired shots throughout the standoff, but did not appear to be aiming at authorities. Authorities did not return fire and kept using CB radios to communicate with him throughout the day.

Alexander’s body was taken to Mississippi Mortuary in Pearl for an autopsy where forensic pathologists planned to use dental records to make a positive identification, said Warren County Coroner John Thomason.

The first explosion is believed to have been the cause of death. The autopsy is expected to be completed tonight.

Funeral services for Alexander will be Monday at 3:30 at Glenwood Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 2:30 until the time of the service, his mother said.