Sheriff Billy Sollie played the 9-11 tapes from that day for the graduating clase of the law enforcement academy in Long Beach. He described an incredible crime scene and the tapes captured the un-divided attention of both the graduates and the guests.
The Lauderdale Sheriff's dispatcher answered the first 911 call at 9:43 the morning of July 8th. It was a surprisingly calm employee inside the Lockheed plant. On the tape a dispatcher asks, "Who was doing the shooting, sir? The caller says, "It was four or five shots fired by Doug Williams." As officers rushed to the plant, another call came in. Dispatcher: "Do you know where the man is who was doing the shooting?" Caller: "I don't know right now but I seen a victim laying on the floor from where I'm standing at, looks like he's dead."
"At 9:43 my life, the lives of the men and women of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department, emergency medical staff who responded, our city of Meridian and the entire state of Mississippi, our lives have changed," says Sheriff Sollie.
Perhaps the most chilling story was about the deputy left to guard the crime scene. The deputy listen over and over to the ringing of a cell phone that was attached to the belt of one of the victims. "Because that cell phone and that deceased person was part of a crime scene she couldn't go over and answer that cell phone. She couldn't go over and turn that cell phone off but what she did know was it was a family member calling saying 'mom are you okay?'"
The sheriff's reminiscing of that terrible day left lasting impressions on the new law enforcment academy graduates. Officer Chris Sturdivant of the Natchez Police Department said, "Definitely hoping that I never have to do anything like that. Everybody has their worst moment but that was about as bad as you can get." Biloxi Police Officer Susan Kimball said, "I think the biggest impression he left on me is how much he emphasized that police officers are human and they have the same emotions that lay people have. I think if we all use those emotions to our benefits in our job, it'll make us better police officers."
Sheriff Sollie says he's having a tough time handling all the attention he's received since the shootings. He says it's his deputies who deserve the pat on the back.