Man arrested during television interview

Published 11:44 pm Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Mississippi man accused of pointing a rifle at a neighbor was arrested during a television interview that began when he walked up to a TV crew photographing his house, which deputies previously had surrounded and searched.

Rodney Wayne Hill, 57, told WLBT reporter Bert Case he had climbed out of a window before Madison County sheriff’s deputies surrounded his house north of Canton, and hid in nearby woods during what deputies thought was a 12-hour standoff.

“The whole time the house was surrounded he was down in the woods and scared to death,” Case said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

He said that as he got out of the station’s car, Hill walked out of the woods with his hands up, saying he needed help. Case said that when he asked what the problem was, Hill told him, “Well, I spent the night in the woods — they had it surrounded here. They were going to kill me and I need your help to survive.” 

While Case was interviewing Hill, photographer Jim Duncan ran to the station’s live truck and told photographer and reporter Jewell Hillery to call 911, WLBT reported.

Hillery said she realized what was happening when she looked out and compared the man talking to Case to a photograph of Hill.

Sheriff Randall Tucker and a deputy arrested Hill during the interview, shouting, “Hands up, Rodney! Bert! Back up!”

“Never in my 48-year career has this happened to me,” Case said.

Hill faces a charge of aggravated assault against the neighbor who called Thursday to say he had pointed a gun at him, the sheriff said. After the neighbor’s call, deputies surrounded Hill’s house. They began searching the house early Friday, finding guns and fake explosives that consisted of canisters with wiring sticking out — but nobody inside.

Tucker told The Clarion-Ledger that deputies found 10 to 12 firearms in the house.

“We looked everywhere, in the attic, in interior walls and breached some walls,” Tucker told the newspaper. “He built that house and it was a lot of crawl spaces. Everybody that knows him thinks he had a tunnel or a safe room.”

Authorities did not find a tunnel, said Tucker, who had issued a nationwide lookout alert for Hill.

Tucker said that Hill’s wife had taken about 20 firearms from the house when they separated recently.

Hill does not have a criminal record in Madison County. In October, however, Tucker said deputies visited Hill at his house, taking two guns, because of a dispute with the same neighbor.