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Gulfport, Wiggins police look for community to help find murder suspect

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 7:33 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Gulfport Police Department has been looking for Jermaine Mayers since April.

The 17-year-old is a suspect in a drive-by shooting that wounded three people and now, he’s wanted for a murder in Wiggins.

“He’s a violent criminal, 17 years old, who doesn’t have the means to get around and hide from the police like he’s doing,” said Gulfport Police Chief Chris Ryle. “So, he’s getting help from somewhere.”

In the case of the shooting in Gulfport, even those wounded are not helping the police, choosing not to pursue charges against Mayers. But because vehicles were also hit, Gulfport has been able to charge him with drive-by shooting.

“It’s a tragic incident that they were shot and will be suffering from a gunshot wound,” Ryle said. “But it does hurt when you have these violent criminals out there and our victims are scared or unwilling to come forward.”

And now, he said the lack of cooperation has consequences. He said if somebody had stepped up earlier, the murder in Wiggins may not have happened.

The Wiggins Police Department is looking for Mayers in the shooting death of 19-year-old Jacoby Bolton more than a week ago. Both agencies are working together and with the U.S. Marshals Service to find him - the sooner, the better.

But they also need the community to help.

“If we don’t get Mr. Mayers behind bars soon, there will be other victims,” Ryle said. “Maybe not in Gulfport, maybe in Wiggins, maybe somewhere else.”

But the chief has a deeper question. “What led to this young man becoming such a violent person?” he asked.

Hopefully, a new program will address that question. It’s called Before the Bullet.

“Hopefully, somebody like Mr. Mayers – early on in his life before he takes that wrong road – we can intervene early and maybe get him on the right path.”

The Before the Bullet campaign, which started last week, is an intervention program in which the Gulfport Police serves as a conduit to pair up at-risk youth with community mentorship volunteers.

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