Father killed by own son, police say

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 21, 1999

An almost nine-hour police standoff ended Tuesday morning with a Natchez man charged with murdering his father.

After attempting to negotiate with Mark Allen, 44, most of Monday night and into the wee hours Tuesday, SWAT team members finally used pepper spray to flush Allen out of his parents’ basement at 106 Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

Allen was immediately arrested and charged with the murder of his father, 74-year-old James P. Allen Sr.

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&uot;It’s a sad, sad tragedy for the family,&uot;&160;Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff said.

Allen is being held without bond pending arraignment this week.

Worried parents

Natchez police came to the house after they received a call at 8:03 p.m. from Mark’s mother, Irene Allen.

&uot;She was worried about her husband (James P. Allen Sr.) who was at their residence,&uot; said Huff, who was at the scene all night.

Mark, who reportedly had stopped taking medication to treat depression, had been missing since Wednesday, said Maj. John Manley of the Adams&160;County Sheriff’s Department. His father had reported him missing Monday.

&uot;(Irene Allen) advised that her son had some mental problems and had (received) treatment for mental problems in the past,&uot; Huff said. She also told police there might be firearms in the basement, he said.

While out with his wife Monday, James Allen went home because he heard Mark might be there.

Irene Allen later went home to check on her husband. She found her husband’s and Mark’s vehicles at the house, but a table was blocking the back door, Huff said.

Officers arrived, found the house in disarray and began searching the house.

Gruesome discovery

At the basement steps, they saw the first evidence of a homicide, Huff said.

&uot;They could see a pile of a combination of blankets and rugs,&uot; Huff said.

Trails of blood led from the pile of bedding and rugs, Huff said.

James Allen’s body was later found under the pile Huff said. An autopsy is planned.

He was shot at least once in the throat with either one of two shotguns or an SKS high-powered rifle, Huff said.

&uot;It was apparent from the wound he died instantly,&uot; Huff said. &uot;It appears, without the benefit of an autopsy, he suffered a fatal wound to the throat.&uot;

Leaving the scene

After the shooting and prior to the arrival of police, Mark Allen was reportedly seen at Plantation Exxon on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive around 7:30 p.m.

An 11-year-old boy and his father were at the Exxon and saw a man with blood on his face. The store clerk later told the boy what the man had told her.

&uot;He said he just saw his dad commit suicide in front of him,&uot; he said

The man bought a Coke and a cigar, and then sped away from the Exxon, he said.

Negotiations begin

Before finding the body, officers also noticed bullet holes in a basement window and called to Mark and his father but did not get an answer.

Huff said the officers heard someone cough and say something they could not understand.

&uot;At this point we didn’t know if we had a hostage situation,&uot; Huff said.

Mark also did not respond to phone calls or calls on the loudspeaker, Huff said.

Officers did not go farther than the basement steps and called for backup. Between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. officers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol SWAT Team, whose members are from all over the state, arrived in Natchez.

Huff said their expertise and training was needed at the scene.

&uot;This was a very touchy situation,&uot; Huff said. &uot;We were not going in the residence and endangering anyone else’s life.&uot;

Standoff ends

About seven sheriff’s deputies, 15 police officers, a 25-member SWAT team, the Natchez Fire Department and the power company assisted in the operation.

&uot;We tried and tried and tried to talk (Mark Allen) out,&uot; Huff said. &uot;We never could establish contact with him.&uot;

At 4:15 a.m., after still no contact with the suspect, the SWAT team decided to use the pepper gas and told Mark to come out through the outside basement door, Huff said.

In 30 seconds, Mark came out unarmed and was arrested, Huff said.

There was no indication that Mark fought with his father and no known motive,&160;Huff said. Huff said police will be looking at Mark’s past mental history as part of the investigation.