6 shot, killed in Tate County; suspect in custody

Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 12:41 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 3:45 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TATE CO., Miss. (WMC) - Six people were shot to death in Arkabutla, Mississippi on Friday. Authorities say the lone gunman is locked up in the Tate County Jail.

The shootings all happened within the Arkabutla community, according to Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance.

Investigators in Tate County, Mississippi said 52-year-old Richard Crum shot all the victims, including his ex-wife and step-father, at three different locations, leaving behind a trail of bullets and broken hearts.

Richard Dale Crum
Richard Dale Crum(Tate County Sheriff's Office)

Crum’s shooting spree started at 11 a.m. outside the Express Mart on Arkabutla Road, where the first victim was killed.

David Mueller lives across the street from the store, where authorities said Crum shot and killed 59-year-old Chris Boyce as he sat in the driver’s seat of his pick-up truck. Boyce’s brother, next to him in the front seat, ran away from Crum and survived.

“I heard one single gunshot,” said Mueller, “I saw a gentleman with a long rifle in his hand and he was getting into his vehicle.”

As deputies responded to the first crime scene, they quickly realized the extent of the tragedy that was unfolding about 40 miles south of Memphis. Local schools went on lockdown as fear set in, and the death toll ticked up.

By noon, half a dozen people were gone, leaving the rural Northwest Mississippi community shell-shocked.

George Drane's wife, Debra, was fatally shot on Friday, Feb. 17, after her ex-husband, Richard...
George Drane's wife, Debra, was fatally shot on Friday, Feb. 17, after her ex-husband, Richard Crum, allegedly engaged in a shooting spree across Arkabutla, killing six total. Drane’s head was wrapped in bloody bandages as he talked to Action News 5, injured in his struggle with Crum.(Action News 5)

As deputies arrived at the store, the next 911 call came in from George Drane from his home on Bend Road.

His 60-year-old wife, Debra, who investigators said was Crum’s ex-wife, had been shot and killed. Drane’s head was wrapped in bloody bandages as he talked to Action News 5, injured in his struggle with Crum.

“I wrestled with him and I lost, as you can see. But my wife lost more,” Drane said holding back tears. “We had just gotten home from the doctor. She’d had a stroke, but we had a good day at the doctor’s office. We ate some soup when we got home and we were going to go into town.”

Deputies tracked Crum down to a third crime scene on Arkabutla Dam Road.

“At the scene, there were four more gunshot victims, all deceased. Two victims were found in a house behind what turned out to be the suspect’s house,” Sheriff Lance said.

The Tate County Coroner identified two of the victims as Crum’s step-father and step-father’s sister, and two handymen who were working out back. One was shot in the road, another was killed in an SUV.

Deputies found Crum inside a vehicle on Arkabutla Dam Road and he was taken into custody without incident.

Half a dozen lives lost in one day stunned this tiny town of just 285 people.

“Six is... I never dreamt we’d deal with something like that here,” said Sheriff Lance.

“No matter if it’s a bigger community or a smaller community, things can happen anywhere. So we need to be vigilant of our surroundings,” said Mueller.

“It’s gotta go back to mental health,” said Drane. “You know, all these mass shootings upset me. And now, it really does, because it hit home.”

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) is assisting with the investigation. 

Governor Tate Reeves tweeted, “I will ensure that the full resources of the state are available to law enforcement as we investigate the situation.”

Authorities said Crum was armed with a shotgun and two handguns.

He’s charged with one count of capital murder with other charges pending and is being held without bond.

Investigators have not released a motive for his rampage.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.