Sheriff: Escapees will remain in county custody, additional charges likely

Published 2:57 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Three teens who escaped from a juvenile lockup in Hinds County likely will remain in the custody of Adams County after being captured Friday morning in Natchez.

When asked if the escapees would be returned to the Henley-Young-Patton Youth Detention Center, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten was quick to answer.

“Not if I can help it. And not if (Concordia Parish Sheriff David Hedrick) can help it. He has a lot of room in his facility over there (in Concordia Parish) and we’re going to utilize all of it.”

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The capture brought an end to a four-day manhunt for the trio who had escaped for the second time from the Hinds County center overnight Sunday and are believed to have shot a woman in Natchez while carjacking her vehicle on Monday afternoon. They first escaped in June 2023.

“This brought four days of terror for our community to a close,” Patten said during an impromptu press conference on Gayosa Avenue, where Tayshon Holmes, 17, of Natchez, and the two other escapees Jashon Jones, 15, and Robert Smith, 16,  were taken into custody between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Friday.

Law enforcement officials had asked the community’s help in locating the suspects after the carjacking, with Patten saying they believed the trio were being hidden somewhere in the area. The plea generated hundreds of phone calls from tipsters, including calls on Friday morning that led to the arrests.

Following a tip, Natchez police department patrol officer Raven Carver and Sgt. Anjanette Kelly confirmed seeing the carjacking victim’s car, a gold-colored 2015 Ford Fusion, on Brenham Avenue around 8 a.m. Friday.

A car that had been reported stolen Monday afternoon as it was seen this morning on Brenham Avenue. (Submitted)

Shortly after officers arrived in that area, they received more calls about the juveniles being seen in the 300 block of Gayosa Avenue. When officers converged on the area, they heard gunshots.

The shots were fired by a homeowner while the juveniles attempted a break-in, Patten said.  “None of them were hit (by the gunfire),” Patten said. “They were separated at that time. Two ran off into a wooded area and one of them hid underneath the trailer where he was captured last.”

One of the suspects hid under this trailer on Gayosa during the law enforcement pursuit Friday morning. (Sabrina Robertson | The Natchez Democrat)

One of the suspects was still wearing the carjacking victim’s jacket and had the keys to the car in his pocket, Patten said. None of the suspects was carrying a weapon when captured.

The three teens were being held on a series of felony charges. Holmes was indicted on an aggravated assault charge for an incident in September 2023; Smith faces first-degree murder charges from a January 2023 incident; and Jones is charged with felony armed robbery and auto theft in connection with a July 2022 incident. Holmes had previously been charged with murder as an adult in the death of Bill Calvin Jr. of Natchez, whose remains were found in 2021.

Patten said investigators are now working the case backwards, tracing the juveniles to crimes that occurred both in Adams County and in Concordia Parish in the past few days.

The first crime is the carjacking, which left the victim on the side of the road with gunshot wounds in her neck and back.

Patten said she pulled her car into the Stanton Baptist Church parking lot on. U.S. 61 North to send a text, “to do the right thing and not text while driving.” That’s when one of the juveniles reportedly approached her car and asked for her cell phone. When she told them no, they shot her, he said.

Commander Jerry Ford of Natchez Police Department said NPD responded to an attempted automobile theft at approximately 2:30 a.m. Friday on LaSalle Street involving three individuals.

“They broke a window and went inside the car, pretty much tearing up the steering column trying to hotwire it so they could get away with it,” Ford said. “One of the individuals confessed a little while ago about the burglary and them trying to steal the car. We will have charges on them for the car burglary as well and all three of them will be sharing that.”

ACSO Lt. Ruston Cavin said each of the three also would be charged with armed carjacking and attempted murder relative to the incident Monday. “We have overwhelming evidence to support our charges of attempted murder and armed carjacking,” Cavin said.

“This remains an active ongoing investigation,” added Patten, noting that other arrests and charges may soon follow.

Patten reiterated that the three will remain incarcerated in the Miss-Lou. Adams County has contracted with Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office to house inmates in its prisons due to ongoing issues with the dated Adams County Jail. The juveniles will be housed in Concordia Parish and charged as adults, Patten said.

“I can’t tell you how good it feels to have these guys standing here with me today,” Patten said, nodding to Concordia Parish and Natchez officers behind him. “The Miss-Lou area has been gripped with fear the last four days because of how dangerous these individuals were. This is their second time escaping that facility and you’ve all seen the charges on them — capital murder, murder, carjacking, armed carjacking—a whole host of charges have been put on them and their crime spree continued while here in the Miss-Lou area.”

“There is only a bridge that separates us from Natchez and Adams County,”  Hedrick said. “Our citizens were just as afraid. … Today, when Sheriff Patten called, we came running.”

Commander Justin Jones of NPD thanked all agencies who responded. “When the sheriff made the call, they came and they came in full force. We do everything we can to protect the citizens of Natchez, even if that means bring in outside agency help,” he said, adding for those in the community who were too afraid to leave their homes out of fear, “Now it’s time to heal.”