RIPLEY, Mississippi (localmemphis.com) – A dispute turned deadly inside a north Mississippi church Sunday and police said an elected Tippah County law enforcement leader pulled the trigger.
It happened around 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning at the West Ripley Church of Christ on Ashland Road, about 80 miles southeast of Memphis. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is handling the case – and for now – constable Keith Bullock isn’t in jail or facing any charges.
The Ripley, Mississippi, police chief said the shooting happened in a lower room after Sunday services let out. The deadly shooting – between two congregation members and involving a man up for re-election in November – rocked the Tippah County community of 5,000 people.
“It’s always unique for Ripley, that’s going to be unique anywhere when it happens with a church crowd,” Ripley Police Chief Scott White said.
The West Ripley Church of Christ sat empty and quiet Monday afternoon, a day after gunfire killed 57-year-old congregation member Patrick Sanders.
“There was some type of altercation, that resulted in what they found when they got there,” Chief White said.
Chief White said during that altercation, one of Tippah County’s two constables – Keith Bullock – shot and killed his fellow congregation member. The police chief said Bullock was treated at the hospital and released but wouldn’t elaborate in detail if the constable acted in self-defense.
“Both men were not armed, but as far as I’m concerned, I can’t release any more than that,” Chief White said.
State investigators took over the case involving the constable, who can make arrests and serve subpoenas.
“Called in the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation due to the fact it involved a Tippah County constable,” Chief White said.
No one answered at Bullock’s listed Ripley, Mississippi, address Monday, but a constable car sat in the driveway. Chief White said Bullock isn’t charged or in custody, pending the MBI’s findings and a decision by the Tippah County District Attorney.
“The district attorney will decide whether it warrants being presented to the grand jury,” Chief White said.
As for the church congregation and the Ripley, Mississippi, community, the crime scene is long gone, but questions linger.
“Everybody is shook, everybody knows both parties involved, so it hits close to home,” Chief White said.
Local 24 News tried the two listed addresses of the victim – Patrick Sanders – but was unsuccessful. We also left a message for the Tippah County district attorney, but haven’t heard back.