July 14, 2014 11:14:23 AM
WALNUT GROVE -- A prison fight in which nine inmates were stabbed was related to an attempt to smuggle contraband into the Walnut Grove prison, says Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps.
The arrest was that of 26-year-old Marcus Warnsley, of Forest, one of whose friends is in the privately owned prison, Corrections spokeswoman Grace Fisher said Sunday.
Warnsley accused of trying to smuggle knives and other forbidden items in 11 footballs, and was arrested about 25 minutes before the fights broke out, Walnut Grove Police Chief Kevin Polk told The Clarion-Ledger.
Fisher did not respond directly to a query about whether investigators have learned how inmates learned so quickly that contraband had been intercepted.
"We have not released more because we are still trying to sort out facts from allegations," she wrote in an email.
Polk said the footballs held, among other things, 29 cellphones, cellphone chargers, headphones, paring knives, cigars, razors, and six bags of marijuana totaling more than 4 ounces.
"It was like a convenience store," Polk said.
Warnsley said he was on his way from work at the Nissan plant to pick up a cousin at the Peco chicken plant, but stopped in the prison parking lot because of car problems and was pacing back and forth while trying to call a mechanic about 8 p.m. Thursday.
"A bystander called police -- told them they saw a bag out there and they think I had something to do with it," Warnsley said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
While pacing, Warnsley said, he saw a big open plastic bag with a tape-wrapped football and a green-and-white cigarette pack at the top. It was not his and he never got closer than 8 feet to it, he said.
Asked if he had a friend in the prison, Warnsley said, "I am from this area. I have relatives who work there and I have friends and relatives who are incarcerated. I don't know who-all is incarcerated, but I'm sure there's someone I know in there. The prison is like 15 minutes from my house."
1. Wait joins Dispatch staff as new MSU reporter COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Heiselt leaving Starkville school board, recommends Myles to post STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
3. SMART splits Boardtown route, adds new stops for residents STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Same-sex marriage: Local counties prepared to issue licenses COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Columbus author wins prize for legal fiction COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY