STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Stone County sheriff's deputies are trying to figure out why they are suddenly seeing more cases in which young men are being accused of putting guns in people's faces and robbing them. Four armed robbery suspects made their initial court appearances on Tuesday afternoon. It marks the second time in a month in which a group of young men allegedly robbed and pistol whipped someone.
Cerrell Avery and Purnell McCray, both 18, Thaddeus Patton, 21, and Andrew Arnold, 22, are all charged with armed robbery. Stone County sheriff's deputies said a Navy serviceman stationed in Guam had come home to Stone County to bury his father.
"Between the jet lag and him visiting with his friends, he got tired," said Lt. Ray Boggs. "It's a normal thing being from Wiggins that he decided he'd just take him a nap."
Deputies said the suspects allegedly pulled him out of his truck at gunpoint and robbed him.
"They pulled him out of his vehicle, pulled a gun on him and told him to give them his money and his jewelry. They were rummaging through his pockets. At that point, one of the suspects hit him in his face with a gun and he had the presence of mind to run," said Boggs. "The first place he ran off into was the woods and being military, he hid from them. They made chase and finally gave up."
Stone County investigators said while four people have been charged so far, they expect at least three more arrests with some of them being juveniles.
"Any time weapons come into play, you wonder what goes through a young man's mind that he would actually threaten somebody's life just for money," Boggs said. " We as a sheriff's department, we try to keep the public information that we are having a rash of robberies and to guard themselves in parking lots, coming out of their houses, whatever the case may be."
Deputies said Avery, McCray, Patton and Arnold were all arrested within a day or two of the incident.
"In this case, lead after lead after lead came in. The public knew the victim. They knew the victim well," said Boggs. "They knew the victim's family. Being that he was home for his father's funeral, it was an outpouring of love towards this family in helping us solve this crime."
The four suspects each received a $150,000 bond. Deputies say this happened in the Gum Branch community, just a short distance from where a man was robbed and pistol whipped last month.
Sunday's armed robbery happened in the Gum Branch community near the intersection of Thelma Andrews Road and New Hope Road. Deputies said it's close to the location where a man was robbed, pistol whipped and hog tied before being driven to Lumberton and left for dead last month. Three people have been arrested in that case while a fourth suspect is still on the run.