Rankin County escapee steals vehicle at Stennis

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2014

John W. Gray

John W. Gray

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department arrested an escapee from Rankin County after the suspect stole a vehicle at Stennis Space Center Friday, said Sheriff Ricky Adams.

Adams said John Gray, 33, was on parole from Rankin County and was being monitored with an electronic device that he bypassed.

After circumventing the monitoring device, Gray picked up a girl and drove to the area of Stennis Space Center, Adams said. At some point, the truck he was driving got stuck so he snuck into Stennis Space Center and stole an employee’s vehicle.

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Hancock High School and Middle School were placed on lockdown Friday as a precaution, Adams said.

To escape sheriff’s department deputies attempting to capture him, Gray drove the stolen vehicle into the woods and took off on foot, Adams said. He said a passerby who spotted him on the side of the road picked up Gray.

Adams said the sheriff department’s K-9 unit had a difficult time tracking Gray because of Friday’s heavy rainfall.

The driver of the vehicle dropped Gray off at the intersection of Mississippi Highway 603 and Interstate 10 and then notified the sheriff’s department of his location, Adams said.

Adams said deputies captured Gray on Miss. Hwy 603 between 9 and 10 p.m. Friday in the midst of the severe thunderstorms that were moving through the area.

During a search of Gray’s pockets, deputies found needles suspected to have been used in the consumption of drugs, Adams said.

Since Gray’s arrest on Friday, sheriff’s department deputies have located a vehicle in the buffer zone that was reported stolen to the Brandon Police Department on May 5, said Investigator John Luther.

Luther said based on where it was stolen and abandoned, the Hancock Sheriff’s Department believes Gray stole the vehicle.

According to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department website, Gray was charged with grand larceny, resisting arrest, possession of paraphernalia and is currently being held on a $16,000 bond.