Sheriff: Mississippian shoots man, sets fires, flees

Officials continued to search Tuesday night for a Mississippi man who they believe shot and killed another man, wounded a woman and set two houses on fire.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Warren Strain said officers were searching wooded areas near Jayess in Lawrence County. A helicopter circled overhead and tracking dogs were being brought from Louisiana.

Earlier, officers surrounded two mobile homes and a house looking for Tony Wilson, who Lawrence County Sheriff Lessie Butler said shot and killed a neighbor in a land dispute. Wilson was in none of those places.

Butler said Wilson and Henry Peavey have disputed ownership of a parcel to which Peavey was granted title.

"Tony's girlfriend called and said Tony had killed Mr. Peavey and set his house on fire," Butler said of the incident, which started before noon Tuesday.

Officials said Wilson set fire to two houses and wounded Peavey's wife, Kathryn, although the nature of her injuries was unclear. She was hospitalized in Jackson.

Robert Langille, Wilson's brother-in-law, told The Associated Press that Wilson's father had paid taxes on a small parcel of land for years, but that Peavey had won legal title.

Langille said Wilson has sought help from sheriff's deputies in the dispute but they had consistently sided against him. The Clarion Ledger reported that Wilson was arrested on charges of aggravated assault against deputies after drawing a gun when deputies responded to a claim that Wilson had violated a court order to stay off Peavey's land. Langille disputed the characterization of that incident, saying Peavey had pulled a gun on Wilson and Wilson had disarmed him, and was arrested when handing the gun over to police. Wilson faced a court date on the charge in early 2017.

Langille admitted that Wilson had a "rough name" in the area.

"My brother-in-law is a person you don't mess with," he said. "I'd call him a man's man."

It's unclear what prompted Tuesday's shooting. Neighbor Ann Givens told The Daily Leader of Brookhaven that the Peaveys had just put up a new fence and someone had cut it down.

"They've been neighbors for years. Mr. Henry has had that land since 1938," she said. "This has been going on for quite a while. The land was Mr. Henry's. Tony couldn't take that."

Langille said he doesn't believe Wilson would have shot Peavey without provocation.

"He's not no murderer, by no means," he said.

Peavey was a retired teacher who taught at Topeka Tilton Attendance Center and Brookhaven High School.

Langille said Wilson is an experienced woodsman and could elude police for a long time.

"If he doesn't want to be found, he'll live in the woods forever," Langille said.