Arkansas Family Wants Justice For Phillips County Man Killed In Shooting

(Phillips County, AR) Investigators in Phillips County, Ark., are trying to find out exactly what led to a weekend shooting that left one man dead and another man wounded.

It was first believed the shootings were the result of a hunting accident, but that proved wrong.

It happened the afternoon of November 9th in a soybean field, seven miles north of Marvell in Phillips County.

Family members of the man who died said this was no hunting accident.

And the Sheriff said an ongoing argument between the men could be at the heart of the violence.

Johnnie Sumpter’s emotions range from sorrow to anger over the death of his nephew Michael Graves.

“We are seeking justice for Michael. Our family member, who was so brutally murdered and left laying down here like he was some kind of dog or animal,” said Sumpter.

Graves was shot in what’s being called a “double shooting.”

The first sign of trouble came when a woman called 911 saying her husband, whose name isn’t being released, was shot in the leg while hunting.

She told the 911 operator she was taking him to the hospital in Helena-West Helena, Ark.

Phillips County Sheriff Neal Byrd said at first the call appeared to be a hunting accident of some kind.

“The information was that no other person was involved. It was just a gunshot victim, from what was reported,” said Sheriff Byrd.

About an hour later that story changed and investigators learned another man,  Michael Graves,  was also shot and armed and in the woods north of Marvell.

Johnnie Sumpter is outraged the couple waited an hour before telling deputies his nephew was shot and lying on the ground.

He believes they could have made one phone call that would have saved the man’s life.

But Sumpter said they didn’t.

“Would not even say, ‘Michael is shot, laying out there in that field.’ So that we could get medical help for him, said Sumpter.

Sheriff Neal Byrd said deputies found Michael Graves after an extensive search.

Graves had been shot in the upper thigh, but he was alive.

Two guns were found next to the man.

Michael Graves was airlifted to the MED where he died the following morning.

The Sheriff says it all appears to be the result of an ongoing disagreement between the parties involving land.

The Sheriff said he and his deputies have been aware of the squabble for a month.

“We received several calls from out there in that area. And when we received a call we did our best to try to defuse the situation, said the Sheriff.

No one, especially Johnnie Sumpter,  ever thought things would go as far as they did.

And he can’t get the image of the blood soaked ground, where his nephew died, out of his mind.

“Every time I close my eyes I see it,” said Johnnie Sumpter.

Sheriff Byrd said the man and wife involved have been questioned, but no charges have been filed so far in connection with the shootings.

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