Ridgeland raises bond for drive-by shooting suspects

Madison County District Attorney David Clark convinced Ridgeland Municipal Judge Harold McCarley Jr. on Tuesday to set a $200,000 bond for each of the two individuals arrested Sunday in connection with an alleged drive-by shooting.

Clark also added an additional charge of aggravated assault against both Judith Kristie Smith, a 37-year-old Jackson lawyer, and Thomas Randy Clark, 33. Both are Vicksburg residents.

The two suspects were originally given a $5,000 bond and released on Sunday. But Tuesday, Clark argued that the bonds were too low.

“These people pulled up beside a car and fire numerous shots. There were three people in the car. It is by the grace of God that no one died,” he said Tuesday in Ridgeland Municipal Court.

The two are accused of shooting into a Toyota driven by Susan Wiltshire after the car rear-ended their blue Jaguar in the drive-through of a Krystal restaurant at the intersection of Old Canton Road and County Line Road in Ridgeland.

According to Lt. John Neal of the Ridgeland Police Department, the Jaguar had pulled up alongside the Toyota after following it on Old Canton Road when the shots were fired. Wiltshire, 22, of Brandon, was hit in the arm. Her two passengers were not injured.

Wiltshire has since had two operations to repair damaged arteries. She was listed in fair condition early Wednesday at University Medical Center.

Ridgeland police arrested Clark and Smith at the intersection of Harbor Drive and Lake Harbour Drive shortly after the shooting.

Neal said the investigation indicates that a semi-automatic weapon was used in the incident.

State law sets a maximum prison sentence for 30 years for a “drive-by shooting” and 20 years for aggravated assault.

Smith and Clark are scheduled to appear in court June 14.

Canton has yet to file annexation bid

City officials voted last week to annex two 590-acre parcels of land flanking the east and the west side of Canton’s current municipal boundaries.

But as of midday Wednesday, legal papers had not been filed with the Madison County Chancery Clerk’s office to instigate the annexation procedure.

Targeted land west of Canton includes the new Nissan interchange and property along both sides of the roadway, including a site proposed for the relocation of the Madison County Medical Center. Land on the east side of the city, includes The Links of Madison County, a golf course and apartment/condominium complex. It is also the site of the yet-to-be-developed “Lakes of Madison County” development.

Both The Links, which includes 30 acres of commercial development and several apartment and condominium buildings, and The Lakes, will include about 250 single-family estate-style homes and 150 townhouses, are development projects of Lindsey Construction.

The company has said from the outset of its announcement of coming to Madison County that it would welcome being included within the Canton city limits and would not oppose annexation.

Canton Mayor Fred Esco said the city is hoping to annex the property without having to wage a legal battle to do so. He said the areas selected are currently not heavily developed so there should be little opposition to the plans.

Track conditions apparrent cause of 2004 train wreck

Federal investigators have completed their year-long inquiry into the cause of the fatal Amtrak accident in April 2004 near Flora.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary findings, the accident which killed Clara Downs and injured dozens of other passengers and Amtrak employees was likely caused by improper repairs to the track.

Investigators have disclosed that the CN (Canadian National) track was repaired near the accident site on January 20, 2004. Their report says that the wrong size replacement rail was installed and that some necessary rail anchors were missing.

The City of New Orleans train derailed on April 6, 2004, just north of the Madison County line near the Big Black River in Holmes County. The northbound passenger train had just passed through the town of Flora.

Passengers interviewed immediately after the accident reported that Amtrak employees had mentioned that they were approaching a rough section of track – just minutes before the train derailed.

The final report is expected to be made public in June following a review by Amtrak and CN company officials.