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Suspect arrested for shooting of three juveniles to be tried as an adult

A Picayune juvenile is being charged as an adult for his role in shooting into a group of children this past Sunday on South Haugh Avenue near the Grande Oak Apartments.

Nolan Bennett, age 13, of 615 Lewis Circle, Picayune, was allegedly given possession of a handgun by an as yet un-named person and approached a group of seven juveniles stated that they had 10 seconds to run, before opening fire into the group at 715 South Haugh Ave near the Grande Oak Apartments. Bennett allegedly fired nine shots from a handgun and 3 juveniles were hit with gunfire.

Upon arrival by the Picayune Police Department, the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office and the Picayune School Police, witnesses and victims told authorities that the suspect was Bennett. All involved knew Bennett from school and the neighborhood where he was sometimes known by his “street name” of Paco.

The injured juveniles were treated by emergency personnel and then transported to Highland Hospital where they were airlifted to the University Hospital in New Orleans. At this time the victims are reported to be in good condition, and have returned home to recover.

Picayune Criminal Investigations Division Commander Rhonda Poche Johnson said information obtained indicates that Bennett’s actions were “unprovoked”.

Picayune Police Chief Drennan said, “To our knowledge, based on the information gathered, the victims were good kids. No problems. We still don’t understand why the suspect did what he did with the victims.”

Johnson said she has her theories on why the shooting occurred, but at this time, she is not ready to share that information.

Bennett eluded capture for two days until his arrest on Tuesday evening (February 23rd) at approximately 8:39 p.m. Surveillance of Bennett’s home resulted in his arrest as he attempted to return home.

Bennett is being held at the Lenoir Rowell Criminal Justice Center in Millard on a $1.5 million dollar bond and is charged with three counts of Aggravated Assault.

Picayune Police Department Chief Freddy Drennan is urging the people who aided Nolan Bennett in hiding from law enforcement, and providing him with the weapon used in the shooting, to turn themselves in.

“We are putting the maximum resources on this case to identify where Bennett got the handgun from and determine where Bennett had been hiding the last three days and if someone was aiding him or hiding him during that time.”

Chief Drennan also sent a message to the youth of the community about misconceptions that seemed to be present in their minds.

“Juveniles think because of their age, like in this case, that you can commit the crime and just get a slapped on the wrist. That’s not the case. If you commit a felony, you will charged, interviewed, tried, and go to trial as an adult regardless of one’s age.”

Chief Drennan commended Johnson for her work on this investigation, and both he and Johnson, want to thank the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Marshalls, and the Picayune School Police for their assistance in the investigation.

Both Drennan and Johnson said they are so thankful that no one was killed during this incident which could have easily turned out differently for those seven juveniles that were in the line of fire from Bennett’s handgun.

Johnson said the investigation will continue to determine why this happened and who was possibly behind the actions taken.



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