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17 year-old murder suspect arrested in Lee County

photo courtesy of Lee County Sheriff's Department


On Friday, December 14th, 17 year-old Latavious Betts was captured on North Green Street in Tupelo and was taken into custody without incident.

Original report:

On December 7th, the Lee County Sheriff’s Department responded to CR 45 in the Palmetto Community to a report of a drive by shooting. Eight people occupied the home that was shot at and four of those people were injured. One victim died as a result of gunshot, one victim was transported to NMMC and was taken to surgery, one victim was treated for injury to the arm from a gunshot, and one victim received treatment from shrapnel injury. The Lee County Criminal Investigation Division arrived and worked the crime scene.

The investigation revealed that a dark colored vehicle, occupied by several individuals, passed in front of the targeted home headed west bound and fired multiple shots into the home. It is believed that no one exited the vehicle during the shooting and all the shots were fired from within the vehicle. The occupants and the vehicle then left the area.

After the incident, four persons of interest were taken into custody and questioned in regards to this incident, and were later cleared and released.

The investigation continued throughout the weekend gathering information and officials learned that the incident was an isolated targeted attack. The investigation has revealed that the shooter, 17 year-old Latavious Betts, and a person inside the home were acquaintances.

Lee County Sheriff’s Department has issued warrants for Betts charging him with murder and aggravated assault for the December 7th incident. Anyone with his whereabouts, please contact Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

Betts is also currently out on bond and under indictment for first degree murder and drive by shooting from a previous incident in Verona, and Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson explained why.

Johnson said he never faced a judge in an initial appearance and documents were never signed by the judge or by Johnson for Betts’s waiver of initial appearance, appearance bond or recognizance appearance bond, and Johnson did not know why.

“He was able to walk out of here on a felony murder charge simply by a signature bond, and he was just turned lose to go back out and do whatever he wanted to do, and that is concerning of how this happened,” said Johnson. “The only way an individual posts bond in our jail is I have to approve any and all bonds, so this was all done without my knowledge and outside the realm of the Sheriff’s Department.”

He said he wants to make clear that the Sheriff’ Department did not have anything to do with this individual being turned out, nor did any judge. He said this was solely the responsibility of the Verona Police Department.

Local reports state that the Verona Police Chief, J.B. Long, said there was no signature because it was stated at the time that Betts was not the individual and his father backed up his alibi, saying he was somewhere else at the time of the shooting. He stated that two female witnesses also named another man as the shooter.

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