By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Officers with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are still in the process of investigating a shooting that left one Starkville city official in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the pelvis over a week ago.
According to investigators, Ken Honeycutt, city building inspector, was hunting with Jeff Lyles, city code enforcement officer, during the evening of Monday, Nov. 7 in Choctaw County.
Jim Walker, public information director of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said Lyles shot at the silhouette of what he thought was a deer, hitting Honeycutt in the pelvic region. Lyles transported Honeycutt to OCH Regional Medical Center but he was later transferred to Jackson for further treatment.
“We are still doing our investigation and one of the most important parts of our investigation is to interview the victim. As of today, we have been unable to do that,” Walker said. “We understand that his condition is very serious, though we do not know the exact details.”
Melanie Honeycutt, a spokesperson for the family, said Honeycutt is in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center in Jackson. Though there was some concern that he would lose his leg as a result of his injuries, she said that is no longer a concern but he will likely require extensive orthopedic work.
“We didn’t expect him to make it Monday night when we arrived at University Medical,” she said. “We are very thankful for all the medical staff and their efforts.”
A blood drive will be held in Honeycutt’s honor at the Starkville Sportsplex on Nov. 21 and 22.
Walker said investigators are going through with the rest of the investigation, including collecting evidence at the scene and attempting to recreate the scene.
“We’re going to discover what happened and why it happened,” he said.
Walker said that although the investigation is still ongoing, it is likely charges will be filed. He could not confirm whether charges would be brought against both men or just Lyles in connection with the incident.
He said the gun Lyles was using that evening was a rifle and was not a legal caliber for the season.
“During a primitive weapons season, you are limited to the type of weapon you can use,” Walker said. “The weapon he was using was not a legal weapon.”
“Primitive firearms” are defined by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks as single- or double-barreled muzzle-loading rifles of at least .38 caliber; single shot, breech loading, cartridge rifles that are .35 caliber or larger and replicas, reproductions or reintroductions of those rifles; and single- or double-barreled muzzle-loading shotguns with single ball or slug.
Walker also said investigators believe the men were hunting after hours. Legal hunting hours in Mississippi are half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
“It appears that it was late in the evening. It will be determined during the investigation if it was after legal shooting hours,” Walker said. “Those charges are pending, and hunting after hours is just one of the possible charges.”