New details emerge in shooting of Hattiesburg woman - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

New details emerge in shooting of Hattiesburg bank vice president

Mary Ann Barnes Mary Ann Barnes
James Smith James Smith
The Glendale Bridge The Glendale Bridge

New details about the shooting of a Hattiesburg bank vice president emerged Friday in Forrest County Justice Court, including the identity of the passenger in her vehicle at the time of the incident.

At the hearing, James Smith, 42, who is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and his lawyer, Tanisha Gates, appeared before Judge Pat Causey. County Attorney Pam Castle described the charges brought against Smith.

Both Castle and Gates spoke with Nick Calico, an investigator with the Forrest County Sheriff's Department. Calico recounted the statements told to him by Smith, Mary Ann Barnes and Gary Hopkins. He said, according to Barnes and Hopkins, they were parked underneath the Glendale Bridge in a black Ford Expedition when Smith appeared at the passenger window asking for a light for a cigarette. They refused. Smith then reappeared at the driver's side and tapped on the window with a hand gun demanding money. Smith then allegedly shot Barnes twice, once in the left breast and once in the abdomen. Barnes then fled the scene. She called her husband who told her to drive to a safe location. Her husband then called 911 telling them Barnes had been shot at the intersection of Old Hwy 42 and Glendale Ave by a suspect in a red vehicle. She arrived at the law offices of state representative Percy Watson without Hopkins. Employees there called for help.

Smith's lawyer, Tanisha Gates, then described the incident from Smith's perspective. She said Smith claims to have been fishing underneath the Glendale Bridge when Hopkins approached him and the two engaged in conversation. Smith noted that Hopkins did not appear dressed for fishing. Smith claims Barnes later arrived in the Expedition and he continued to fish. Smith went on to claim he left the bridge in a red car. He did not mention witnessing the shooting.

Calico said investigators found a .380 hand gun near the scene a few blocks away along Chonec street. They also found three shell casings. Fingerprints could not be recovered from either the gun or the casings. Smith turned himself into Forrest County authorities two days after Barnes was shot. Smith's car was found at Chain Park.

Barnes originally stated to police the shooting took place at a gas station in the city limits of Hattiesburg, but police later revealed the results of their investigation showed it occurred under the Glendale Bridge which is located just outside the city limits. The case was then handed over to Forrest County authorities.  

Judge Causey said he saw enough evidence for Smith to remain under bond until the case can be presented to the next grand jury session.

Barnes is vice president of Hattiesburg's Trustmark National Bank and office manager of the downtown offices. Hopkins is the husband of Hannah Hopkins, a televangelist who appears on local television. Both told authorities they were having a conversation under the bridge at the time of the shooting.

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