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Pastor in Mississippi allegedly murdered by escaped inmate, who later died in standoff with police — 3 other escapees remain at large

Composite screenshot of NBC News YouTube video

A recent jailbreak in Mississippi had deadly consequences for a beloved Baptist pastor, and though the suspect in the murder is dead, the threat to community remains high as three other escapees remain on the lam.

On Saturday night, four inmates in the Raymond Detention Center, about 15 miles west of Jackson, Mississippi, reportedly managed to sneak outside and loiter about on the roof for a while before going their separate ways. The men suspected of escaping are: Dylan Arrington, 22; Casey Grayson, 24; Corey Harrison, 22; and Jerry Raynes, 51. All were facing theft-related felony charges, and all had about a four-hour head start on law enforcement as their absence was not discovered by jail staff until 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Grayson, Harrison, and Raynes reportedly remain at large. Arrington was eventually located, but only after allegedly murdering a beloved Baptist pastor who, in his Christian charity, had stopped to help a man he believed to be in distress.

Sometime on Monday, two days after the escape, Arrington supposedly found a motorcycle, stole it, and crashed it driving along an exit ramp of Interstate 55 near Jackson. After the wreck, which occurred at around 7 p.m. that evening, 61-year-old Anthony Watts, the pastor of St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church in D'Lo, Mississippi, stopped to see if he could be of some assistance. There, on the frontage road along the interstate, Arrington allegedly shot Watts several times and then fled away in the victim's red Dodge Ram. Watts was later pronounced dead at the scene.

"We are all in some sort of grief moment," said Reverend Carl Burton, an associate pastor at St. Mary's, "but we know that God has the upper hand. We cast all of our cares upon him because he cares for everything that we have to go through, we have to deal with, even in this."

"Reverend Watts was a person that loved everyone," congregant Vivian Ross recalled. "He didn't meet no stranger. He would help you, do anything he could for you. He just loved everyone, and we loved him."

On Wednesday morning, police eventually traced Arrington to a residence in Leake County, northeast of Jackson. The subsequent standoff between the suspect and police lasted about two hours. During that time, Arrington allegedly shot and wounded a Leake County deputy in the leg. Police returned gunfire, and the house eventually became engulfed in flames. Arrington was later discovered deceased inside the building. His cause of death remains unknown.

"We believe that the individual was possibly struck, but of course, we don’t have that information right now," said Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones. "Whether he died by gunfire or whether he died as a result of the fire, that is to be determined."

The wounded deputy is currently listed in stable condition.

Thus far, police have few leads regarding the whereabouts of the other escapees. They have found a couple of vehicles which they believe may have been stolen by two of the suspects. Last year, Raymond, the medium-security facility from which they escaped, had been placed under federal oversight due to "a stunning array of assaults, as well as deaths" reported there.

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