GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - James McDowell, 28, is in the Harrison County jail tonight, charged with the murder of 25-year-old Deverick Johnson. Earlier this morning, McDowell was involved in a tense two-hour standoff with Gulfport police at a home near the corner of Hewes Ave. and East Railroad St.
It began shortly after 8 a.m. inside this house. Roads were blocked, and the SWAT team was called in. Amid the chaos, an impromptu prayer vigil was held, led by the Rev. Clifton Walker, Sr.
"I asked the God that I serve to protect the individual that did wrong and also the police department. I've been a member of this community all my life," Walker explained.
Some arrived to watch the drama unfold, while others were worried about family in the neighborhood. One of those was Felicia Spencer.
"My concerns were that my father, he's an outdoors person, and I saw all the police blocking off Hewes Ave. so my concerns where with my elderly parents," Spencer said.
K9 officers were called and others moved in and out, standing at the ready. Then, the unmistakable sounds of flash bangs and tear gas explosions were heard as police moved in.
The gas could be seen rising above the trees, but it all ended suddenly, according to Sgt. Josh Bromen, with the Gulfport Police Department.
"SWAT team negotiators made several attempts to contact Mr. McDowell, and we were unsuccessful. In reference to the bangs you referred to, the entry team did make entry, deployed tear gas and flash bangs, and the suspect was placed into custody," Bromen explained.
In addition to the onlookers showing up on the scene this morning and prayers for both the suspect and the police officers, relatives of the murder victim showed up as well and remembered him fondly. Loved ones included Katrina Campbell and Ranetta Payton.
"He has a son. Good kid. Just spoke with him Saturday, and I tell you it's just hard because you never know when it's your last time talking to someone," said Campbell.
In the end, this was the best case scenario, according to Bromen.
"It's very high stress, but it's what we train for and that's what we like to see, a good peaceful resolution," said Bromen.
Police said three other people inside the home at the time the standoff began surrendered immediately and were later questioned but not charged.