JACKSON, Miss. – A man who escaped from a Mississippi jail and is suspected in a Monday night killing died after barricading himself in a home and setting it on fire during an armed standoff with deputies, authorities said Wednesday.
Plumes of smoke emanated from the charred remains of the home in Conway, hours after a body was recovered. Dylan Arrington, 22, perished inside the home, setting it ablaze after shooting a deputy in the leg, Leake County Sheriff Randy Atkinson told The Associated Press.
“He inflicted that kind of terror after escaping from jail, killing people and shooting law enforcement. But that guy won’t be killing anyone else,” Atkinson said.
In a statement posted online in the evening, Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones said the remains had been positively identified as Arrington. The cause of death was under investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
Authorities have been pursuing Arrington and three other inmates who broke out over the weekend from a Mississippi jail under federal scrutiny. Arrington is suspected of killing a man and stealing his pickup truck after the escape.
The owner of the torched Conway home said he saw someone matching Arrington’s description hiding inside a trailer behind his house on Tuesday evening. He notified the sheriff’s office and fled with his family. Investigators searched the property, but there was no trace of Arrington. They continued the search through the night with drones and a helicopter.
Around 7 a.m. Wednesday, Atkinson and a deputy returned to the property with the homeowner. After a short meeting, the homeowner discovered Arrington inside. He sprinted outside and alerted the officers, who were standing in the driveway. Arrington then exchanged gunfire with them through a window, striking the deputy in the leg, Atkinson said.
Within a two-hour period, the house was set ablaze from within, he said. Investigators waited until the fire was out before they approached the home and found a body.
The injured deputy was transported to a hospital where he was stabilized.
Multiple law enforcement agencies continued searching parts of the state, after the Leake County Sheriff's Office told residents to “please keep your doors locked and have no keys or weapons in your vehicles."
The U.S. Marshals Service and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are among the agencies assisting in the search.
Police said Anthony Watts, a 61-year-old church pastor, was shot and killed Monday around 7 p.m. on Interstate 55 in Jackson after he pulled over to help a man who had wrecked a motorcycle. That man shot Watts several times and then stole his Red Dodge Ram, police said. Watts died at the scene.
The suspect in that shooting fit the description of Arrington, Jackson Police Chief James E. Davis said.
Casey Grayson, Corey Harrison and Jerry Raynes are the other three prisoners who escaped Saturday night from the Raymond Detention Center, a facility near Jackson, through breaches in a cell and the roof. Jones said the men might have camped out on the roof before fleeing and going their separate ways.
Raynes was spotted on surveillance footage at a service station in Spring Valley, a suburb of Houston, at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jones said Wednesday in a statement. Investigators believe he fled to Texas after stealing a Hinds County Public Works vehicle, which was recovered in Spring Valley. It was unknown whether Raynes traveled alone.
The four escapee had been in custody for various felony charges, most involving theft. Arrington had charges of auto theft and illegal possession of a firearm, WAPT-TV reported.
Watts' stolen Red Dodge Ram, which has tan trim and Cowboys stickers on the front and the back, was last seen heading south on I-55 in Terry, Mississippi, police said.
Investigators also believe a stolen Chevy Silverado is connected to the escape.
Raynes, Grayson and Harrison remained at large.
In July, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ordered a rare takeover of the Raymond jail after he said deficiencies in supervision and staffing led to “a stunning array of assaults, as well as deaths.”
But before the appointed receiver was scheduled to assume control over the jail Jan. 1, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the lower court’s order until it ruled on the county’s motion for reconsideration.