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Slain Simpson County deputy has family ties to Warren County



Simpson County Deputy James Blair (Photo courtesy SCSO)
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Simpson County Deputy James Blair was fatally wounded Friday during a prisoner transport from the Region 8 health care facility at Mendenhall, Mississippi.

The alleged perpetrator, Joaquin Steven Blackwell, remains at large, and an intense law enforcement search is underway in Simpson County. Authorities believe Blackwell is still in the area, and multiple agencies have sent personnel to assist in the search.

Late Friday, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety issued a “Blue Alert” requesting Blackwell’s description and pertinent information be broadcast to the public.

Joaquin Stevens Blackwell

Blackwell is a black male, 22 years of age, 5-feet-8-inches tall, weighing 175 pounds. He was last seen wearing white boxer shorts with no shirt.

He was last spotted in the D’Lo area near Mississippi Highway 149. He is probably still in possession of Deputy Blair’s gun and is considered armed and dangerous.

Friday, Blair had transported Blackwell, who was in the custody of the Simpson County Sheriff’s Office, to an involuntary psychiatric evaluation at the Regions 8 Health facility in Mendenhall. Dave Van, executive director of the facility, told local news outlets that Blackwell’s family was concerned about his mental health.

After the evaluation, Blackwell grabbed Blair’s gun while getting back into the car, shot him and fled.

Blair was a veteran officer with more than five decades of service. He was a first cousin to retired Warren County Assistant Chief Deputy Billy Heggins, and a second cousin to current Chief Deputy Billy Joe Heggins, Vicksburg Police Investigator Donnie Heggins, and Warren County Constable John H.Heggins.

Blair was 77 years old. He remained on the job because he was raising his three grandchildren after their mother died.

Anyone with information on Blackwell’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Simpson County Sheriff Office at 601-847-2921, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation at 855-642-5378 or Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS (8477). You can also dial 911 to report a sighting.

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