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Monday, Nov 14, 2011County: Lowndes
Alleged: Steven Craig McKee
A Columbus man was shot by a Lowndes County Sheriff's Deputy early Monday morning after the man allegedly charged the officer.
Lieutenant Steve Hatcher was dispatched to 589 Renee Circle at 9:17 am for a reported burglary of a home. E-911 dispatchers gave out a description of a white male wearing a red shirt and shorts and indicated that the man was headed east towards Mike Parra Road.
At 9:27 am Deputy Hatcher radioed 911 that he was out on Mike Parra with an individual matching the description of the alleged burglar. Hatcher also informed dispatch that the subject was armed with a knife.
By 9:30 am, the deputy radioed into 911 that he had just shot the individual and requested an ambulance.
Steven Craig McKee, 27, of 1038 Mike Parra Road Lot 43, was shot once in the torso and once on the upper right side of his shoulder near his clavicle.
According to witnesses, Deputy Hatcher pulled his patrol car on the side of Mike Parra Road just before the entrance to Renee Circle and got out of the car to approach McKee. Noticing the knife, Hatcher then yelled to McKee to stop and drop the weapon but the man did not acknowledge the officer and continued walking down the road. The deputy then yelled again to McKee but received the same response. Hatcher then yelled to the man a final time before McKee turned around to face the officer.
Lowndes County Chief Deputy Greg Wright says that Deputy Hatcher repeatedly ordered McKee to drop his weapon.
Wright claims that McKee did not and then "made an aggressive move" and charged towards the officer. Wright says that is when Deputy Hatcher then drew his .45 semi automatic Kimber sidearm and fired two shots at McKee.
McKee was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle where he was rushed into surgery to repair the damage his body sustained during the shooting.
While deputies were securing the scene, family members approached the law enforcement officials and guided them to McKee's trailer. Family members told deputies that when they heard of the shooting they rushed to McKee's home and discovered Shadow, a three month old Labrador-Retriever mix that had been brutally stabbed. Upon entering the home, deputies were met with a pool of blood. They followed the bloody trail to the back of the home where the injured animal lay lifeless. Shadow had been stabbed 14 times, seven times on the chest, three times on his right paw and four times on his left side. Deputies called animal control and the mutilated pup was taken to Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society where he underwent surgery. Shadow received multiple stitches but the entry wounds appeared to be minor and he is expected to make a full recovery. According to Humane Society Director, Karen Johnwick, McKee "could have done a lot more damage."
As of press time Wednesday evening, McKee in custody at BHM-GT and will be charged with one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, one count burglary of a dwelling and one count possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. The stabbing of the dog is still currently under investigation but McKee could also be charged with one count of animal cruelty. It is unknown if the knife McKee had on his person when he allegedly charged Deputy Hatcher is the same knife used to stab the canine.
Monday's incident was not McKee's first brush with the law. Originally from Columbus, McKee moved to Texas during high school. In 2004 he was convicted by the Dallas county district attorney for burglary of a vehicle and theft of property. Once in prison a psychiatric exam resulted in McKee being diagnosed as bipolar and a paranoid schizophrenic.
McKee served one year in prison in and returned to Mississippi. His Texas convictions meant that he was now a convicted felon and therefore not allowed to carry a firearm.
In January of 2008 McKee was arrested by LCSD Deputy Toby Rickert for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. In May of 2009, McKee appeared in circuit court and was ordered to undergo another psychiatric exam. While Wright could not speak on the findings of that exam, McKee's sister, Jamie McKee Adams, says "The doctor said nothing was wrong with him and everything was fine. But he's on four different medications, how could he be fine? Just talking to him, you know he's not right." McKee was ordered to serve one year in jail but received credit for time served. He also received five years probation.
Adams says that McKee has been on four different medications since 2004 but has not been taking his medicine for the past several months. "I go and I refill his prescriptions but the bottles are always full. He's not taking them."
Adams also says that she and her other sister Tracy McKee have tried multiple times to get McKee "the help he needs."
She says "We've called 911, we've talked to deputies but they all say they can't commit him without his permission. They told us that they can't do anything until he's hurt someone."
In October of 2010, McKee was off his medication and hammered a nail through the bridge of his nose. McKee then tried to remove the nail with a pair of pliers and when that attempt failed he cut off his nose with a razor blade. McKee was living alone at 36 Grace Drive in New Hope when he called his sister and asked her "Sissy, can you call an ambulance? I'm dying." Adams says that the nail went an inch deep into McKee's brain.
After the incident with the nail, Adams says that she and McKee went to the courthouse where she was appointed his power of attorney. She also says that this is when she and her younger sister decided to move McKee from his home in New Hope to a home closer to them off Mike Parra. Tracy McKee lives on Lot 23 of the old Nicholson Trailer Park and Adams lives less than a mile down the road at 589 Renee Circle.
Adams' house is the residence that McKee allegedly broke into Monday morning. A neighbor saw McKee break the back window of Adams' home and called 911. Adams says that while her brother did shatter the glass on the back door of her home, she doesn't believe he intended to steal anything saying that "Nothing is missing. I really think he just came over to see if we were home."
According to Adams, she along with her husband and two children, were staying with a friend to "stay away from him. I know he wouldn't hurt us, but…" Adams says that on Thursday evening McKee became violent and "kept trying to fight everybody."
She and her family left their home but Adams maintains that she wasn't afraid of her brother adding, "He's got the sweetest heart. He's such a good guy. But he's not right. You can talk to him and you can tell. He's not right."
She also added that her brother has never been cruel to animals before and Monday's incident "just isn't like him." Adams remembers a time from their childhood and says "When we were kids he used to unset our mother's mouse traps. He would take the lids from mayonnaise jars and put food in them to try and catch the mice to keep as pets. He loved that dog, he would never hurt her."
His sister claims she called McKee several times over the weekend to check on him and even brought him dinner every night. "We would take him food but we wouldn't get out of the car. We just didn't know how he was."
Adams says that on one of these instances McKee told her "Death cheated me. I should have died a long time ago."
She wonders "Maybe he went after the officer to see if he was going to die, if he would shoot him."
"I don't blame Steve Hatcher for what he did. I'm sure he did what he felt he had to do. I just wish he would have Tased him first. That way my brother wouldn't be laying up in a hospital bed."
According to Wright, Hatcher was not carrying a Taser (Thomas A. Swift Electrical Rifle) that day. While the Taser is standard issue for police officers at the Columbus Police Department, they are not for Lowndes County Sheriff Deputies. Hatcher was not carrying a Taser but was carrying his personal sidearm along with the department issued a Glock 21. Hatcher did not fire the Glock, instead firing his Kimber. Wright says that deputies are allowed to carry a weapon of their choice but must complete a department led training course with the firearm. As to why Hatcher was not carrying a Taser, the sheriff's department has approximately four Tasers. With five officers on any given shift, there simply aren't enough Tasers for every officer to have one.
Wright says that while Tasers are effective, his officers are trained in the use of deadly force, "especially if they are confronting an armed suspect."
"The last thing I want, the last thing I want, is for a deputy to get seriously injured or killed. No officer wants to be put in that situation. When you are, you fall back on your training. Firearms are a part of our training."
Adding to just how dangerous a subject armed with a knife can be, Wright says "It is a proven fact that if a subject has a knife and you have a gun they can cross a distance of 21 feet before you can even draw your gun and discharge it."
This is the second instance this year that deputies have been forced to shoot at someone mentally unstable. On May 9, deputies fatally wounded 44-year-old John Rogers Montgomery in a shoot out off Askew Road in Artesia. After a two day man hunt involving nine agencies from three different counties, the hunt ended with Montgomery sustaining a gunshot wound that later proved to be fatal. He succumbed to his injuries and died the next day.
Similar to McKee, Montgomery was also a paranoid schizophrenic and was off his medication. The shooting also happened at 9:30 on a Monday morning.
Adams says she hopes that her brother will "get the help he needs and not be thrown in prison."
As is standard procedure in an officer involved shooting, Deputy Hatcher has been place on administrative leave.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations is currently investigating the shooting.
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