The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Police capture armed individual in 4th Street Parking Garage

Sean Smith
The 4th Street Parking Garage became the scene of a police standoff after an armed individual entered the premises.

An armed standoff between a wanted man and local police brought Century Park to a standstill on the afternoon of Saturday, April 5.

According to a statement from the university, the Simpson County Sheriff’s Office alerted the University Police Department that an individual who was wanted on felony charges was on campus in Hattiesburg.

WDAM revealed that the suspect was 25-year-old DaMarcus Tyrese Burkett. Burkett was out on $150,000 bond after being arrested for one count of enticement of a child and two counts of possession of child pornography back in February.

Burkett was scheduled to appear in court Friday morning. His family noticed his suicidal posts on Facebook and alerted SCSO.

It is unknown why he came to USM, but the SCSO tracked his location through his cell phone and told UPD.

UPD found Burkett in the 4th Street Parking Garage threatening to harm himself.
The combined efforts of UPD, the Hattiesburg Police Department, the Forrest County Sheriff’s Office, the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics brought Burkett into police custody. UPD transferred him to SCSO on Friday.

During the standoff, authorities advised students to avoid the area surrounding the 4th Street Parking Garage. Students who lived there had to remain in their dorms or leave the area.

The Eagle Alert system warned the campus about the incident at 1:08pm. Campus did not enter a full lockdown.

A freshman spoke to SM2 News about his firsthand experience. He was driving out of the parking garage when the police redirected him.

“I didn’t see anybody. All I saw was a lot of guns pointed towards, like, the ramp. Even at, like, the first floor when you’re going up to [the] second [floor], there’s a cop car there blocking it, too.”

Police responded to the scene and entered into negotiations with the individual. (Sean Smith)

Authorities resolved the incident around 2:30pm. UPD released a statement alerting the campus shortly after. 4th Street Parking Garage closed temporarily, but opened soon afterwards.

Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police at USM Rusty Keyes praised the officers involved in today’s incident, saying “The safety of our students is our main priority, and the timely management of today’s events demonstrates our conscious efforts to protect the health and well-being of our University community.”

When asked how this incident made him feel about campus safety, the freshman said “This is America, man. This is everywhere.”

He was confident the authorities had the ability to stop the gunman. “They had guns pointed in every direction. If that dude were to start something, then it would be shut down quick,” he said, “so I’m not really worried about it for real.”

Police showed up to the scene with heavy weaponry. (Sean Smith)

This is the second incident in two years where UPD detained an individual on-campus. Last spring, UPD arrested Steven Green for trespassing, disorderly conduct, and two counts of simple assault on a police officer. The confrontation between police, Green, and a USM student was caught on video.

According to USM’s Annual Security/Fire Safety Report for 2023-2024, crime rates on campus have been low for the past three years. Most of the arrests stem from larceny and drug and weapons law violations on campus that are referred to disciplinary action.

The 24/7 suicide and crisis helpline is 988.

Check out a report by SM2 MMJ Bethal Miles on the incident here.

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