Article 13: Feb. 2022
Escapee awakens in barn with gun to his head
By Chris Willingham
Jail escapee Justin Hughes was reportedly captured after a Marshall Hill community resident held a shotgun on Hughes and called the sheriff’s department about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The resident reportedly found Hughes in his barn and held him at gunpoint until officers arrived.
The capture came after Hughes and possibly the last remaining escapee, Jerome Rutherford Jr., were sighted Tuesday in the area, following the armed robbery of the Dollar General store in Haworth Monday night.
Hughes and Rutherford are suspected in that robbery.
Sheriff’s deputies, U.S. marshals, Choctaw Tribal police and Idabel and Wright City police responded when Hughes and possibly Rutherford were sighted Tuesday afternoon in the Marshall Hill community.
Sgt. Richard Williamson of the sheriff’s department reportedly made a traffic stop on a vehicle on Old 21, and upon seeing Hughes and Rutherford inside, began shooting into the vehicle, this newspaper learned.
Williamson was allegedly alongside the stopped car Tuesday afternoon when it began to reverse and Williamson shot into it an unknown amount of times, according to a source within the sheriff’s department.
A passenger jumped out, saying he was surrendering and “didn’t want any part of this,” as the car, with Hughes and possibly Rutherford inside, sped away.
The passenger was arrested and told officers and U.S. marshals, “they went that way”, referring to Hughes and Rutherford.
Officers quickly began trying to set up a perimeter of the approximate four-mile radius, but that was made difficult due to some recent serious communication problems the sheriff’s department is experiencing.
This newspaper’s source in the sheriff’s department said the department’s radio repeater system on a Carter Mountain tower was taken down last week, nearly wiping out all radio communication for the sheriff’s department.
The department reportedly had a free lease with the tower owner for years, but the tower owner recently erected a new tower and chose not to renew the free lease.
The department is now relying solely on the old county radio channel, which has terrible range and nearly unusable service, as well as cell phones for all radio communication.
Cell phone service in the Marshall Hill area was very spotty Tuesday, making it difficult for officers to communicate with each other.
Sheriff Kevin Clardy called KSLA News Channel 6 in Shreveport Tuesday afternoon, according to the news station’s Facebook page, saying the department had a “four mile area cordoned off.”
But, two reporters from this newspaper were on scene and saw nothing cordoned off, though many officers from multiple agencies were actively searching and stopping all passing vehicles to look inside.
Sgt. Williamson’s shooting into the car occupied by Hughes, another man and possibly Rutherford Tuesday comes less than a month after Williamson and Clardy reportedly “emptied their magazines” into a black SUV on Jan. 18 on SH 37, after a suspect fled from Texas into the county.
The newspaper requested a full report on that case, but was never received one, in apparent violation of state statutes.
According to county handbook policy, any time an officer discharges a weapon in the line of duty, a full investigation and report must be done of the shooting incident.
If such a report was done in either case, the newspaper has yet to see it.
Also, on Monday, the sheriff’s department posted on its Facebook page that the department had “55 calls to service from Friday to Monday morning.”
On Monday afternoon, there were four new reports since Friday morning in the official department binder of reports.
That in itself is a violation of state law and also the oath of office Clardy promised when he was sworn in.