Man arrested in fatal holiday party shooting

Joseph Bennett, 30, of Jackson was arrested in a hotel room near downtown Tuesday afternoon by SWAT team officers. He is charged with murder and four counts of aggravated assault in the violence that investigators call “idiotic” and “crazy” because they said it ignited from words over a spilled drink.

Bennett’s arrest at the Days Inn on Larson Street came just hours after Mayor Frank Melton received a tip regarding the shooter’s identity.

Police also have issued an arrest warrant for 33-year-old James Warren Jr. of Jackson on four counts of aggravated assault.

Melton said he began receiving phone calls Tuesday morning from people in the neighborhood who witnessed the shooting. He also said he taped a confession from the alleged shooter but would not say how he obtained it.

Melton was the first to publicly identify the alleged shooter as Bennett. He also said he played the recorded confession for Chief Malcolm McMillin.

The mayor described Bennett as a “dangerous” man with a lengthy criminal history.

“I don’t even know why he’s on the streets,” he said.

Since 1996, Bennett has pleaded guilty to receiving stolen goods, possession of cocaine, motor vehicle theft and grand larceny.

In October 2004, he was arrested and charged with murder but was released on Valentine’s Day last year after a mistrial. He pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in that case and received 60 months’ probation. He was still on probation at the time of his arrest Tuesday.

Clarion Ledger
5/28/8