UPDATE: Police arrest alleged shooter after tourists targeted in ‘random’ shooting outside Natchez restaurant

Published 2:15 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Within 24 hours of a late Thursday shooting outside the La Fiesta restaurant on John R. Junkin Drive, police have the alleged shooter in custody.

Jamal Watson is detained with four counts of attempted murder charges pending after he allegedly opened fire at tourists inside an RV leaving the restaurant. No one was injured.

Natchez Police Chief Cal Green and Mayor Dan Gibson just released a notice of the arrest at approximately 1:45 p.m. after searching through the night Thursday and Friday morning for a suspect.

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Green said every law enforcement agency in the region, from Adams and Wilkinson Counties to Concordia Parish, aided Natchez police in the search.

“They have been tirelessly working on this since last night and the investigation is still ongoing,” she said. “We do have him in custody and we did get the gun.”

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson added, “All I can say is I’m very grateful. We take these matters very seriously and I would like to note that within a few hours time, our police have solved this and have the suspect in custody and off of the streets. We don’t take these matters lightly and we will do everything we can to make sure our city stays safe.”

Four people were inside a motorhome outside La Fiesta restaurant on John R. Junkin Drive when a gunman fired at least 13 shots late Thursday evening.

No one was hurt, but photos show the motorhome with bullet holes and shattered windows from the gunfire.

The shooting appears to be random. One of the victims shared on social media that he and his family were just passing through on their way to vacation in Eureka Springs.

“I felt the bullets pass my face as the window shattered,” he shared.

The man said they stopped in Natchez to eat at the restaurant and had just gotten inside the motorhome and cranked it when he saw movement outside the driver’s window.

The gunman is described as a younger Black male dressed in a black hoodie with possibly short dreadlocks. He was seen on a bicycle riding from the front of Natchez Market #1 around the motorhome before he dropped the bike and started firing.

“… he was about 20 ft from my door, stops, drops the bike, pulls gun from his pocket aims straight at my head and put 3 rounds in my driver’s window,” the man said.

“I yelled at everyone to get down, lay on the floor, we all hit the floor as he continued shooting as the motorhome was rolling away while we (were) on the floor. I heard the gunshots … this time … coming from the rear of the motorhome I sat up a little and got my foot around the seat to mash the gas to get away. Called 911 pulled over a couple blocks away. Police came we were able to recover a round out of the interior of the motorhome, police went back to the scene, recovered 13 spent rounds from the shooter’s location.”

The man said he thanked God no one inside the motorhome was hit.

Green said Thursday night police were called to the scene at approximately 9:40 p.m., adding she was floored by the incident.

“People that live here should not be subjected to that, and definitely not people that are just driving through,” she said. “Even though I can’t patrol every person in the city, I can’t apologize enough.”

In the wake of the incident, Gibson said, “We are grateful that no one was hurt.”

“We believe this was a very random act and our police have worked through the night and are continuing to work to apprehend this individual and to further investigate the incident,” Gibson said. “We will leave no stone unturned. Ultimately Natchez remains a very safe and hospitable city with so many great things happening and we intend to keep it that way.

“I spoke to the police chief early this morning and am grateful that she is aggressively approaching this incident. I’m encouraged but we try not to speak too much about incidents that are under ongoing investigation.”

To the victims in the ordeal, Gibson said, “We are so sorry that this occurred and we want them to know we’re taking it very seriously. The chief and I have been communicating since right after this happened and even up to the early hours (Friday morning).”