Two self inflicted gunshots were fired during an overnight melee in Waveland. One shot injured Waveland police officer Charlie Lipps. He's been transferred to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport for treatment.
The other bullet killed Waveland resident Wilford Asher. For some unknown reason, he got into a nearly four hour gunfight and standoff with Waveland Police late Tuesday night.
During the exchange of gunfire, Officer Lipps shot himself in the foot. Around 2:00 Wednesday morning, when police finally stormed into Asher's home, they found the 52 year old lying in a pool of blood. "The victim took his own life," Waveland Police Chief Jimmy Varnell said.
Asher was a neighbor who took great pride in his home. With a perfectly manicured garden, and colorful bird houses, his tiny blue house on Hope Street has always been a place of hope for neighbors. Julia Caruso called her neighbor "a wonderful person."
But in an instant Tuesday night, hope shattered into tiny pieces when police swarmed around the Waveland yard, and gunshots ricocheted through the house.
Alton Asher is the shooting victim's brother. They were together less than an hour before the standoff started. "They wouldn't let me do anything to try and get my brother out," Asher said. "I think I could have literally talked him out because me and him were close."
The brothers were working motorcycles Tuesday night. And they were talking about buying a new home out in the country. That would have taken Alton away from the water, and away from the hurricane devastation that seemingly altered his sunny, pre-Katrina disposition. "What I think it was, I think it was Katrina syndrome. He lost everything he had like everybody else. And he just couldn't cope with it," Asher said.
Neighbors noticed the change in Alton Asher's demeanor. "This is just a situation that it's a very permanent solution to a temporary problem," Caruso thought.
The standoff with police started around 10:00 Tuesday night. It ended four hours later when SWAT teams rushed into the house and found the victim. "Single gunshot wound to the head, self inflicted," is what Chief Varnell said a preliminary autopsy concluded about the shooting death.
Alton Asher invited me inside the house to see where his brother died. I saw broken glass on the living room carpet, a bullet hole about this big in a wall, and a pool of jelling blood between the kitchen and the dining room. That was the spot where Wilford Asher lost his life. "This is just a very sad day for all of us," his neighbor said.
Chief Varnell said Lipps suffered his wound while reaching for a shotgun. "Upon trying to reholster his handgun, it went off and struck him in the foot," Varnell said. Officer Lipps is recovering from that foot injury at Gulfport Memorial Hospital.