Robber’s body discovered under bridge at highways

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2010

The body of one of two men chased after a violent robbery at a small grocery Thursday night was found this morning at the Interstate 20-U.S. 61 interchange and authorities were trying to determine whether he was shot, jumped or fell from an overpass.

A second suspect, described, like the dead man, as Hispanic, was being sought by police in the robbery and assault at La Chiquita grocery store, 4002 U.S. 61 South, which triggered the chase and shootout.

Police received a call about the armed robbery at 8:41, said Sgt. Sandra Williams. “The caller reported two Hispanic males entered the business wearing ski masks. One was carrying an SKS assault rifle, and the other had a handgun,” Williams said.

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After taking an undisclosed amount of cash, CDs and jewelry from the store, as well as a wallet and cash from a customer, the two fled the scene in a vehicle and headed north on U.S. 61 South toward Interstate 20, Williams said. A woman clerk at the business was hit in the head with the butt of a rifle during the robbery, then notified the store owner who jumped in his vehicle and chased the robbers, Williams said.

“There was a chase on the highway, which resulted in the suspects crashing out on the bridge,” she said. “The suspects got out of their vehicle and started firing at the business owner. And basically, between the suspects and the owner of the business, there was a shootout.” She declined to speculate on how many shots were fired.

The business owner was not injured, she said, and was questioned and released by police Thursday evening. He also owns El Ranchero Restaurant, next door to La Chiquita, Williams said. The distance between the business and the site of the wreck and shootout is about 4 miles.

This morning, a passer-by notified authorities after spotting the body about 6:15. Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said the man appeared to be about 24 years old, but had no identification on him. Huskey said the body was being sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Jackson today, and an autopsy would be performed today or Saturday. Huskey declined comment on what he found during the initial inspection of the body.

When asked if it was possible the man jumped from the bridge above, Williams said, “That’s a good possibility.” The distance from the top of the bridge to the concrete surface where the body was discovered appeared to be about 60 feet.

Blood was discovered on the bridge, Williams confirmed. The robbers’ vehicle was left at the scene and towed by police Thursday night, she said. She would not release information about the vehicle this morning, citing the investigation.

Assistant Police Chief Jeffery Scott said police were searching the area of the wreck and shootout this morning via helicopter with the assistance of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

“We think the second suspect may have been shot, too, but we don’t know for sure,” said Scott. “It’s possible he’s still in the area.”  

Of the man discovered this morning, Williams said, “We definitely have recovered physical evidence to say he was involved with the robbery.”

The La Chiquita clerk was questioned by police after being treated and released from River Region Medical Center, Williams said.

“We will continue the investigation,” she said. “Hopefully we can locate the second suspect in the armed robbery and get a better idea of what happened here,” she said.

Contact Steve Sanoski at