Neighbors say an otherwise quiet street in Vicksburg, Mississippi was shattered with a single shot around noon Saturday, leaving 25-year-old Justin Kirkley shot dead and his 77-year-old grandfather holding the gun.
The grandfather, Joseph Crist, said he did not want to speak on camera but he tearfully told WJTV’s Lucy Dieckhaus what happened at his home.
Crist said his grandson is a good kid but when he gets alcohol in his system, he loses control and that’s what he said happened when his grandson tried to choke him to death.
“The whole situation is tragic, but Mr. Crist clearly has the right to protect himself, especially in his own home. And as I said this will be thoroughly investigated. The product of this investigation turned over to the district attorneys office, but at this stage of the investigation there’s nothing to indicated anything other than self defense.” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.
Sheriff Pace says this wasn’t Kirkley’s first run in with law enforcement.
“Justin was currently out on bond in the Vicksburg Police Department murder charge. He also has a conviction of residential burglary. The last contact we had with him was a December arrest for domestic violence,” said Sheriff Pace.
When WJTV spoke with the grandfather on Sunday, the day after the shooting, he had a black eye, bruises on his face and neck and other injuries.
Crist said he played dead and that’s how he was able to get away from his grandson and grab a gun.
The elderly man said Kirkley had a hard life and suffered from Cerebral Palsy.
“Just a terribly tragic situation; the grandparents are trying to help him, trying to do everything they could. You know to give him opportunities and to steer him in the right direction,” said Sheriff Pace.
Sheriff Pace says Kirkley was shot at near or point-blank range in the chest and states the incident is still under investigation.