Mississippi State student to be buried in Vicksburg

Published 1:09 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two men have been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of a Mississippi State University student outside a campus dorm room. The search continued today for a third suspect.

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements were made in Vicksburg for John Sanderson, 21, who was gunned down in an MSU dormitory late Saturday night. His paternal grandparents, Vi and Ray Sanderson, live in Redwood.

The first arrest in the case came late Sunday, U.S. marshals said. Mason Perry Jones, 21, of Jackson was charged Monday with capital murder in the case.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

At 7:30 p.m. Monday, the second suspect Dontae Harvey, surrendered at a residence in Jackson. Supervisory inspector Rick Griffin said in a statement that marshals developed information on his whereabouts and gained cooperation from his family. Harvey was being held at the Raymond Detention Center and awaiting transport to Starkville, Griffin said.

The possible motive in the killing “will come once the investigation is complete,” said Bill Kibler, vice president of student affairs at MSU. “Police do have some clues, but nothing that is releasable information.”

MSU spokeswoman Maridith Geuder said the underlying charge that kicks in the capital murder charge is the sale of a controlled substance. She didn’t elaborate on the charges.

She said Jones, who wasn’t an MSU student, has requested an attorney.

A 1997 law passed in the wake of the Pearl High School shooting also makes a homicide on educational property a capital crime.

Sanderson, who had transferred from Holmes Community College, was shot multiple times outside a dorm room on the first floor of Evans Hall.

Kibler said Sanderson lived in Rice Hall, not Evans Hall. When asked why Sanderson was in Evans Hall on the night of the shooting, Kibler said he was “probably visiting.”

The U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force arrested Jones on Sunday in Memphis on an unrelated, outstanding robbery warrant from Jackson. Griffin said Jones was traveling north on a bus from Jackson under an assumed name.

Marshals were acting on a tip when they arrested him after the bus stopped in Memphis. Griffin said he wasn’t sure if Jones had planned to travel beyond there.

Geuder previously has said police received a call about the shooting at Evans Hall around 10 p.m. Saturday and police were on the scene within a minute. Sanderson was taken to Oktibbeha County Hospital, where he died.

Three men fled the building in a blue Ford Crown Victoria, officials said.

The four-story Evans Hall holds about 300 male students and is on the north side of the campus of about 20,000 students.

Sanderson will be buried at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Greenlawn Garden Cemetery in Vicksburg, Vi Sanderson said.

She said she and her husband didn’t see Sanderson often because he lived with his mother and stepfather in Madison.

“We didn’t have as much time with him as we did with our other grandchildren,” she said.

Occasionally, Sanderson’s father, Rusty, who lives in Raymond, would bring him to visit, she said. Most recently he visited the weekend of March 10 to celebrate his father’s birthday, she said.

“That was the last time we saw him,” she said.