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Two men killed Friday night were reportedly protecting others when domestic dispute turned violent

NATCHEZ — Two volunteer firefighters were killed Friday night while apparently trying to protect others involved in a domestic dispute that turned deadly, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said.

The suspect in the killings, Jonathan Beach, 36, has been charged with two counts of murder, Patten said.

Adams County Coroner James Lee said he was called to the scene of a double homicide at 620 U.S. 61 North where the two men were found dead.

Lee said Jason Haley, 34, and Troy Whittington, 31, were pronounced dead at 1 a.m. Lee said both men appeared to have died from gunshot wounds.

Patten said Friday night’s shooting was the result of an ongoing domestic situation between Beach and his wife. The couple were apparently separated, Patten said.

Jonathan Beach posted a public message on social media a few weeks ago that referenced he and his wife were ending their marriage.

Patten said deputies responded to two 911 calls to the residence on U.S. 61 North

The first call at 10:10 p.m., Patten said, requested deputies come to the house to investigate deer cameras that were allegedly installed by Beach for surveillance of his estranged wife and her activities.

When deputies came to the residence, Jonathan Beach was not at the house, but deputies retrieved a deer camera from the property and made a report, Patten said.

Deputies responded to a second 911 call from the residence at 11:26 p.m., Patten said. Beach had appeared at the residence and was trying to gain entrance into the house, Patten said. The shootings occurred before deputies arrived.

Haley and Whittington, who were in the house with Beach’s wife and a group of friends which included adults and children, confronted Beach and gave him verbal commands to leave the house.

Patten said, Haley and Whittington were protecting Beach’s wife and others, who had been locked away in a bedroom.

Beach entered the house with a gun on him. Afterward, gunfire erupted, resulting in Haley and Whittington’s death. Beach was also wounded in the incident, Patten said.

All three individuals had guns, Patten said. No one else was physically injured in the incident.

After they arrived on the scene, deputies located Beach wandering away from the residence covered in blood, with a weapon, Patten said.

Deputies apprehended the suspect and retrieved the gun, Patten said.

Beach was transported to a Jackson hospital.

“It appears to be a domestic violence situation that ended tragically,” Patten said.

Beach has since been released from the hospital and was transported back to Adams County for questioning, Patten said. Beach was later officially charged withe the two murders.

Lee said the bodies of both victims will be transported to the state crime lab for autopsies.

Haley was the fire chief for the Liberty Road Volunteer Fire Department and Whittington was the fire chief for the Lake Montrose Volunteer Fire Department.

Both departments had participated in the Natchez Mardi Gras parade just hours before the shooting.

“My heart goes out to these families,” Lee said. “I truly believe there is another way to settle differences without shooting.”

“It hurts the families and it hurts our community,” Lee said.

Patten called Whittington and Haley unsung heroes.

“If it wasn’t for their actions, the situation could have been much worse and more lives could have possibly been lost,” Patten said.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said the Adams County Firefighters are a unique group of men and women.

“They will put their lives on the line for any resident of Adams County,” Bradford said. “Troy and Jason are prime examples of that calling.”

Bradford said the men will be greatly missed.

“As the community heals from this tragedy, the scars will remain to show us where we have come from,” Bradford said. “We will be focusing on comforting everyone and coming back together as we prepare to lay our brothers to rest. They will be missed greatly by the districts they represented.”

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