The family of the suspect in a deadly weekend shooting spree in Mississippi said he had been acting out in the days leading up to the massacre, which left a sheriff’s deputy and seven others dead.
The suspect, Willie Godbolt, 35, was taken into custody Sunday accused of carrying out a deadly shooting rampage that occurred a day earlier in two rural towns located about 70 miles south of Jackson.
Authorities believe Godbolt shot and killed eight people, including Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr, 36, after getting into an argument with his estranged wife. The shootings occurred at three different locations.
Shon Blackwell, who identified himself as Godbolt’s cousin, told ABC affiliate WAPT that the suspect had been having “episodes,” pulling guns on people and shooting animals before the incident happened.
“He had been having episodes for a while where he had been acting out, pulling guns, shooting at things [and] dogs you know doing different things,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell’s son, Jordan Blackwell, 18, along with this nephew and Austin Edwards, 11, were among the eight people killed in the massacre, according to WAPT. The two were reportedly playing video games in their living room when a gunman stormed in looking their relatives.
Austin’s older brother, Caleb Edwards, 15, said his cousin, Jordan, was shot and killed while shielding him from the gunman.
“He loved me enough to take some bullets for me,” Caleb told The Associated Press on Monday. “I thought I was going to die.”
Shon Blackwell said he believes the gunman was looking for him and his wife.
“It would have been bad for me, but it would have been better for my son and my nephew,” Shon Blackwell said. “I really wish I was here.”
Authorities identifies the other victims as Barbara Mitchell, 55; Brenda May, 53; Tocarra May, 35; Ferral Burage, 45; and Shelia Burage, 46. Family members said the mother, aunt and sister of Godbolt’s estranged wife were among the dead. Godbolt’s wife and children managed to escape the scene, according to the family.
Investigators are still working to determine the motive behind the attack.
Authorities plan to charge the suspect with one count of capital murder and seven counts of first-degree murder, but those charges could evolve in the coming days.