Ole Miss Student Arrested - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ole Miss student in custody; friend says he's mentally ill

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A friend of an Ole Miss student, charged with armed robbery in Jackson, is speaking out.  He says Byron Magee is a good guy who has made the mistake of his life and he knows why and wants the public to understand.

"Real good guy, very intelligent, phenomenal in athletics, basketball", is how William McLain is describing the 22 year old man police believe is shown on surveillance video at the Kangaroo Express on Old Canton Road earlier this week.

Byron Magee is now charged with armed robbery of a business and armed robbery of an individual.

"I think probably a few years ago, 4 or 5 he developed a mental illness," said McLain. "He's been taking medication but here recently he got off and I know from a personal experience that when you take a medication for a long amount of time and you get off of it, you can have some bad consequences and I think that's what happened with him."

The video shows a man walking into the store to make a purchase. When his credit card is declined, he leaves the store and returns with a shotgun. He takes money and the clerk's cell phone.

"I asked him why, what, what's going on, are you on drugs, or what's going on?" said McLain. "He stated that he hasn't been on his medication and has been very delusional and something inside of his head told him to do it. And when his credit card declined that added fuel to the fire."

Magee turned himself in to police accompanied by his lawyer. McLain says he hopes his friend is treated like a patient and not a hardened criminal.

"Paranoid schizophrenia, as far as I know is a very nasty disorder, which causes people to hear voices and hear things which can make them do things they wouldn't otherwise do," McLain added. "So in this case I think that's what happened and I want people to know that Byron is not a bad person. He's very intelligent, very smart and comes from a good family."

McLain says he thinks Magee got the gun from his home, but he will never believe he would have hurt anyone.

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