Charges in Wheeler attack to be upgraded to murder

An elderly victim in the attack died Wednesday morning; suspect remained in the hospital in Memphis

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Charges will be upgraded to murder once the suspect in last week’s attack in Wheeler is released from the hospital.

Prentiss County Sheriff Randy Tolar said Wednesday the elderly man who was attacked on June 3 died June 10 from his injuries. The suspect, whose name is not being released until he is taken into custody following his release from the hospital, remains at the Med in Memphis in stable condition, “but is in no shape to be released yet,” Tolar said.

Prentiss County authorities continue to investigate the attack that shook the normally quiet Wheeler community Wednesday. In addition to the elderly man, a woman was also attacked. A witness saw the attack in progress and shot the suspect.

Tolar said his department received a call from a Wheeler resident that he was following an individual who had been involved in an incident the previous night, June 2. Deputies had been unable to locate the suspect following the previous incident. Then, around 8:30 Wednesday morning the call came in and deputies were dispatched to a location near Wheeler Head Start.

“The caller stayed on the line as best that was possible keeping the dispatch posted on the suspect’s location and direction of travel as well as his erratic behavior,” Tolar said. “At one point the suspect went to a nearby residence and began assaulting a female resident. The caller then made contact with the suspect and shot him twice just before deputies arrived, incapacitating the suspect and likely saving the female victim’s life.”

Tolar said once officers arrived, they secured the scene and called for medical aid to respond. During the initial investigation, the suspect revealed that he had beaten an elderly man nearby in his shop. Deputies and investigators responded to that location and found the man clinging to life.

“The two victims were taken to NMMC in Tupelo,” Tolar said. “The suspect was airlifted to the Med in Memphis.”

Tolar said the female victim was treated and released from the hospital Wednesday evening. The elderly man was initially listed as being in critical condition and in a coma before succumbing to his injuries.

Charges were initially filed against the suspect for two counts of attempted murder, but Tolar said one of those charges will be upgraded to murder. The suspect will be transported back to Prentiss County upon his release from the The Med.