Arkansas Family Wants Justice For Phillips County Man Killed In Shooting

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(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.


  • johnnie sumpter

    thanks for airing my interview .but the story the sheriff is giving is different and the investigation is NOT fair and impartial. everything is being slanted in favor of those murders.

  • roquel Williams

    Justice should and will be served for my cousin. Murder is murder evidence is clearly there that he was left for dead. On behalf of the family all we want is justice to be served and the murderers to own up to their choice to leave my cousin there to die.

  • Sareta Fulcher

    As a family, we are so appreciative to Channel 3 for listening to our story. “Sheriff” Byrd has shown more consideration to the murderers than he has to our family. We have suffered a tragic loss. I believe that the sheriff’s idea of an “extensive search” and ours is drastically different. We are taught that the police will protect and serve, and that has not been our experience. The ” investigation” has been lackluster, and Neal Byrd has shown a lack of compassion for human life and our family. If this is his idea of protecting and serving, we want no parts of it.

  • Joe Gray

    It is one thing to lose a loved one to old age or disease, but it is quite the opposite to lose a loved one to lies, a bad investigation process, and an overall lack of justice. Not being able to find true closure is haunting for our family and leaves us in state of disarray. We intend to find the truth as all darkness shall come to light. Our experience with the investigation conducted by Neil Byrd has been exhausting, infuriating, confusing, and completely inadequate.

  • Scherron Richard

    This family deserves a fair and thorough investigation. This man and his wife showed a depraved indifference for Michael’s life by not telling the 911 operator that he layed bleeding to death alone in the woods.

  • Beverly Graves Gray

    Thank you Channel 3 for airing our story. We are a family who is known for helping others and for being close knit. We have a strong belief in God and our faith has been tested. Sheriff Byrd has been lackadaisical and uncompassionate in the investigatin of the MURDER of my brother. As the eldest sibling, I hurt because I couldn’t be there to protect my brother as he lay bleeding to death alone in a cold field while the MURDERERS were receiving care and denying him the same! What they did was CRIMINAL!!!

  • johnnie sumpter

    i would just like to bring to mind to my fellow phillips county residents that you and your family are at risk if we don’t work together to seek better law enforcement in our county .need i remind you of hundreds of cases thrown out by a special judge due to failures of the law enfocement and justice system in our county.

  • johnnie sumpter

    no. he was shot and left to bleed to death by a husband and wife who didn’t have the deacency to tell the police where they left him so he could get badly needed medical help before it wa to late.

  • johnnie sumpter

    these murders have yet to be placed under arrest.phillips county has become a dangerous for decent people live.

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