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Press Release

Petal Man Pleads Guilty to Role in 2016 Killing at Hattiesburg Mugshots Restaurant

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Mississippi

Hattiesburg, Miss. – James Windham, 24, of Petal, pled guilty today before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett to aiding and abetting the carrying and use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, resulting in the firearm being discharged, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Brad Byerley with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

On June 26, 2016, Windham and a co-defendant met with a third party at a Hattiesburg Mugshots restaurant in order to sell two ounces of marijuana.  Windham brought his co-defendant along as an armed enforcer and as backup in case the drug deal turned sour.  During the drug transaction, at least one firearm was discharged between Windham and his co-defendant, resulting in multiple rounds being fired and, ultimately, the death of the third party.

Following the shooting, Windham and his co-defendant fled from the scene, at which time they discarded the marijuana and all firearms associated with the shooting.  Due to the diligent police work of the Hattiesburg Police Department, the marijuana and all firearms were recovered shortly after the shooting.

Windham and his co-defendant were charged in a federal criminal indictment on June 25, 2019.  Windham will be sentenced by Judge Starrett on January 12, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.  He faces a minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison.

This case is part of Project EJECT, an initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Project Guardian. EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness. EJECT stands for “Empower Justice Expel Crime Together.” PSN is bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Hattiesburg’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, and Hattiesburg Police Department investigated the case.  District Attorney Hal Kittrell and the 15th Circuit District Attorney’s Office were instrumental in guiding early investigative steps in the matter and involving federal partners.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew W. Eichner.


Updated September 24, 2020

Firearms Offenses