By CARL SMITH
While investigators turned their attention to piecing together the events surrounding an on-campus homicide of a student, Mississippi State University officials attended funeral services for 21-year-old John D. Sanderson.
Sanderson’s visitation and funeral services were held yesterday in Madison, and he was buried in Vicksburg that afternoon. Bill Kibler, MSU vice president for student affairs, said he accompanied university President Mark Keenum and Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois to the day’s events. The MSU representatives delivered a framed certificate of attendance and a private message from a professor to Sanderson’s family.
“We make a serious attempt to attend services — It’s something we try to do for the death of virtually every student,” Kibler said. “The family was very appreciative and very kind. It’s always important for the university to show its support.”
Sanderson was fatally shot at Evans Hall before 10 p.m. March 24. Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt said an autopsy showed Sanderson died from two small-caliber gunshot wounds. One shot struck Sanderson in the chest while another struck his arm and entered his abdomen, Hunt said.
Investigators have yet to publicly announce a motive or cause associated with the shooting, but MSU officials confirmed a drug sale is linked to the event.
Three suspects were identified by MSU investigators shortly after the shooting, and authorities arrested Mason Perry Jones, Duntae Harvey and Trent Deundra Crump, all 21 and of the Jackson area, almost 64 hours after the incident. Harvey and Crump surrendered to authorities in Jackson and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Department in Florida, respectively, while Jones was picked up by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Memphis, Tenn., after fleeing the state on a bus while using an assumed name.
All three are charged with capital murder.
District Attorney Forrest Allgood said his office has been in contact with MSUPD during its investigation and offered advice. The DA’s office has taken no formal action in regard to the case.
Jones is currently detained at the Oktibbeha County Jail, while the Clay County Jail received Harvey 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. MSUPD Chief Georgia Lindley said investigators will travel to Florida and extradite Crump back to Mississippi when they receive judicial authorization.
Lindley said an on-campus pedestrian found a weapon “a short walk away” from Evans Hall near Chadwick Lake after the incident. The lake is located between the Sanderson Student Recreation and Fitness Center and the Bryan Athletic Building. A general entrance to Evans Hall is serviced by George Perry Street, which crosses Coliseum Boulevard and runs the length of the lake until it reaches State Highway 182. Evans Hall rear parking areas also funnel into Coliseum Boulevard. If a driver heads west on the boulevard and turns north on Lakeview Drive, the path also wraps around the northern most part of the lake near the intersection of George Perry Street and State Highway 182.
Lindley could not confirm the caliber of the gun, who ditched the gun or whether it was done by an individual on foot or in a vehicle.
The Associated Press reports a small-caliber handgun is being tested at the Mississippi Crime Lab, but Lindley and Hunt would not confirm.
Alachua County deputies took a blue 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis in as evidence when Crump surrendered to authorities. Officials confirmed the car is secured and on a hold for Mississippi investigators. No comment was given to the condition of the car or if any evidence was present.
Court documents obtained by the Associated Press show all of the suspects have previous arrest records.
Harvey was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia and contempt of court, resulting in a six-month jail sentence and a $4,534 fine. He has a string of other misdemeanor charges, ranging from shoplifting to domestic violence.
Last May, a judge ordered Crump to serve 60 days in jail and pay a $624 fine for threatening with a deadly weapon. A month before, he had been arrested on a charge of discharging a firearm.
In 2010, Crump was charged with the felony of burglary of dwelling house, but the case was dismissed. His record also includes a host of misdemeanor charges, including simple assault with injuries, domestic violence, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and failure to appear in court.
When Jones was arrested over the weekend, authorities picked him up on a warrant involving a Valentine’s Day armed robbery of a man sitting in a car outside a convenience store in south Jackson.
Documents obtained by SDN through the Freedom of Information Act show Sanderson also had a criminal history.
Sanderson was arrested in 2007 for the sale of Marijuana. During questioning, he admitted to Madison Police Department investigators he had broken into two vehicles and taken a combined $30.
Sanderson was also charged with two counts of aggravated assault in 2010. Police reports state Sanderson pulled an individual into a vehicle in a Walmart parking lot and shot him in the face with a BB pistol and again after he reacted to his injury.
A MPD report states Sanderson then grabbed the man by the coat and dragged him while driving away. He then attempted to run the individual over, the report states.
After a plea in Madison County Circuit Court, Sanderson was sentenced to two years each on two counts of simple assault and five years probation on conspiracy to commit a crime. SDN learned Sanderson served time in the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in 2010. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, he served in the Regimented Inmate Discipline (RID) program at Walnut Grove from May 12 to Dec. 3 of that year.
“More details will come out after the investigation is concluded,” Kibler said. “We will continue to move expeditiously through this process.”