Police: Suspect in Gulfport murder also wanted in kidnapping

The Sunday morning shooting left one man dead and one woman injured.

Search underway for suspect wanted in Gulfport shooting, victim identified

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Police said Monday morning that they are still looking for the man suspected of killing one man and leaving another person injured.

Roderick Bowers, 52, is wanted in connection to the murder of 32-year-old Cruz Johnson of Pass Christian. Bowers is considered armed and dangerous.

Police are searching for Roderick Bowers in connection to a fatal shooting that happened Nov. 10, 2019, in Gulfport.
Police are searching for Roderick Bowers in connection to a fatal shooting that happened Nov. 10, 2019, in Gulfport. (Source: Gulfport Police Dept.)

According to officials with Gulfport Police, Bowers was also a suspect in a kidnapping that happened Nov. 6. Bowers allegedly kidnapped a woman that he had been in a previous relationship with. She was found safe a day later.

Police Chief Leonard Papania said both the shooting and the kidnapping are connected, although he chose not to give out any other details as not to interfere with the police investigation. Authorities did confirm that the shooting was domestic-related.

Johnson was shot multiple times in a car outside a home on 47th Avenue, said police.

“She said, ‘Call the police, call the police!’" recalled Joyce Bailey, who lives right next to the house where the shooting took place. "She was bleeding all over, but I didn’t think she had got shot. I thought that was just his blood on her, and she said, 'My hand’s been shot off. He shot my hand off, my fingers off.”

The impact of such a violent morning has left Bailey and others on edge.

“It’s bad for me. I never expected something to happen in front of my door like this," said Bailey.

Victoria Davis was one of Johnson’s close friends.

“For something like this to happen, it just happened in the wrong way," said Davis. “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Davis said she grew up around violence in her Louisiana hometown but didn’t expect to see it now that she lives in Gulfport.

“I never thought in a million years in my adulthood that I’d have to see this happen again, in my family’s driveway, somebody getting killed in front of my auntie’s yard," said Davis.

For now, the community is mourning the loss of Johnson and encouraging others to stop the violence.

“I hope they catch (Bowers) and lock him up before he do anything else to anybody else," said Bailey.

“Gulfport we need to come together and stop all the violence," said Davis. "Put the gun down.”

A vigil for Johnson is being held at 5:30 Monday in Jones Park, according to a family friend.

Police are asking the public for help to locate Bowers. If you see him or have knowledge of his whereabouts, please call Gulfport Police immediately at 228-868-5900. Do not approach him because he is considered armed and dangerous.

Tips can also be left anonymous by contacting Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers online or by phone at 877-787-5898.

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