http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=16254

Slim Smith, Dispatch Correspondent

March 26, 2012 12:59:20 PM

 

STARKVILLE – An arrest was made Sunday in connection with the weekend fatal  shooting of a Mississippi State University student.

 

MSU Police Chief Georgia Lindley today confirmed Mason Perry Jones was  arrested for the death of MSU student John Sanderson, 21, of Madison, who died  of multiple gun-shot wounds following a shooting at Evans Hall dormitory shortly  before 10 p.m. Saturday.

 

Jones was arrested in Memphis about 7 p.m. Sunday, by the U.S. Marshal’s  Fugitive Task Force. Jones was arrested on an outstanding armed robbery warrant  out of Jackson, which was not related to Saturday’s shooting, Lindley said,  noting UPD was informed by the marshal’s service on Sunday afternoon an arrest  was imminent and informed of the arrest, as soon as it was made. Though he has  been arrested, charges have yet to be brought against Jones.

 

“The U.S. Marshal’s Service was one of many agencies that have volunteered to  help us in the investigation,” Lindley said. “They came in (Sunday) afternoon  and began working the case. We are very grateful for all of the assistance.  Obviously, this is a very important matter to us.”

 

Lindley would not confirm Jones is the primary suspect and would not  elaborate on whether police now know the identities of two other men sought in  connection with the shooting. The UPD has not yet interviewed Jones and Lindley  would not comment on whether other agencies have interviewed Jones, as part of  the investigation.

 

Witnesses reported three black males were involved in the shooting and left  the scene in a late-model blue Crown Victoria.

 

Police recovered a handgun on campus early Sunday morning. Surveillance tapes  from cameras at the entrances of Evans Hall were being reviewed as a part of the  investigation, said Bill Kibler, Vice President of Student Affairs at  MSU.

 

“Our goal now is to identify the suspects and bring them into custody  immediately,” Kibler said Sunday. He declined to reveal a possible motive for  the shooting, but said police had information from witnesses who “knew what was  taking place.”

 

Evans Hall, one of the older dormitories on campus, is arranged as a  quadrangle. The first floor, where the incident occurred, opens into a  courtyard. The higher floors have balconies overlooking the courtyard. Evans  Hall has two main entrances — the north entrance accesses the first floor and  the south entrance accesses the second floor, which features a game room and  office, along with residents’ rooms.

 

Kibler said the shooting took place outside one of the first floor dorm rooms  and 24 students subsequently were relocated from their first-floor rooms to  preserve the integrity of the crime scene.

 

“This is the first time in our school’s history that such a tragic event has  occurred involving a student being shot on campus,” MSU President Dr. Mark  Keenum said Sunday. “Our campus is known as a safe place, and I want to assure  students, parents, faculty and staff that it continues to be safe.”

 

Entry to dormitory rooms is gained through three levels requiring key-card  access — at exterior entrances, entrances to wings or floors and at residents’  rooms.

 

However, the key-card access system was activated at the time of the  incident, which occurred before 10 p.m. And, Kibler noted, non-residents can be  brought into the dorm by residents, at any hour.

 

A deadly shooting spree on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007 – when almost  two hours passed before students/staff/faculty were notified that a shooting had  taken place – led to changes on campuses across the country to get the word out  more quickly.

 

Ben Grace, an MSU freshman who lives in Evans Hall, Sunday said he received a  torrent of text messages after the incident.

 

“I was getting all these texts and I’m thinking, “Why is everyone texting  me?” Then I got a call from a friend and he told me what happened. I just  grabbed my laptop and went over to stay with a friend at South Hall.”

 

Another Evans Hall resident, Phillip Bajoras, said he walked into the North  Entrance at about 10 p.m. Saturday.

 

“There were a lot of people standing around and I was wondering what was  going on,” he recalled. “Somebody was saying somebody got stabbed. Somebody  else said he was shot, but nobody said they heard any gunshots.”

 

Barojas said he looked over the balcony and could see the victim, who was  being attended to by “a couple of people” just outside one of the rooms while  police were clearing the courtyard.

 

Having recently transferred from Holmes Community College, Sanderson was in  his first semester at MSU.

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