Some residents believe unsolved break-ins to blame for accidental shooting

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

NATCHEZ —Some Natchez residents believe the accidental shooting death of Deborah Mizell on Tuesday is a symptom of the stress generated by a rash of unsolved home and auto break-ins.

Mizell’s husband shot and killed her believing she was a home intruder.

There have been four break-ins downtown and one in the Jeff Davis area.

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Ann Tillman’s car was broken into in December.

“It makes everyone on edge and fearful,” she said.

The recent car burglary wasn’t Tillman’s first exposure to being the victim of a crime. Four years ago her house was also hit.

Tillman said the invasion of her home and subsequent auto break-in left her feeling unprotected and fearful.

Since this rash of break-ins started weeks ago, Police Chief Mike Mullins said catching the perpetrator or perpetrators has become top priority.

The most recent incident occurred on Dec. 27, at the Salters residence on Jeff Davis Boulevard home of Martha Salters.

Salters said an intruder broke into three vehicles parked in her driveway before going inside.

Mullins said the intruder used keys obtained from one of the vehicles to enter the home.

Salters said six adults and three children were asleep while the intruder was in the home.

“That’s an incredibly scary thing,” she said.

Tillman said when the most recent rash of burglaries began, she suspected something tragic like Tuesday’s shooting would happen.

Besides the accidental shooting death of Deborah Mizell, the Salters’ burglary has prompted some residents in the neighborhoods surrounding Jeff Davis to take extra precautions.

Joe Gamberi said he will be installing additional locks on the doors of his home and motion activated floodlights.

“Other than that we are just taking basic precautions,” he said.

Another Jeff Davis resident, Audley Case, said he has noticed that many of his neighbors are now leaving more exterior lights on during the night.

“I have also heard that some people are considering getting dogs,” he said.