A relative of the suspected gunman in the Mississippi shooting rampage that left eight people dead said he was “devastated” that a family dispute ended tragically on Saturday. 

“I’m devastated. It don’t seem like it’s real,” Vincent Mitchell said shortly after his stepson-in-law, Willie Corey Godbolt, was arrested. “Him and my stepdaughter, they’ve been going back and forth for a couple of years with that domestic violence.”

Godbolt, 35, is accused of walking into Mitchell’s home in Bogue Chitto in southern Mississippi just before midnight Saturday and opening fire, killing Mitchell’s wife, his sister-in-law and a daughter.

Also slain was Deputy William Durr, a two-year sheriff’s department veteran and former police officer in nearby Brookhaven, where authorities said Godbolt fled and killed four more people at two other homes.

Godbolt stormed into Mitchell’s home that night and demanded his estranged wife give up their two children. She and the kids had been staying with them for about three weeks, Mitchell told The Associated Press.

“He’d come to get his kids. The deputy was called,” and asked him to leave, and it seemed like Godbolt would comply at first, Mitchell said.

“He acted like, motioned like, he was fixing to go. Then he reached in his back pocket and grabbed a gun,” Mitchell said. “He just started shooting everything.”

Mitchell and Goldbolt’s wife managed to escape.

Godbolt was arrested near the final crime scene, in a subdivision of ranch houses, and hospitalized in good condition — treated for a gunshot wound — but it’s unclear who shot him. At least seven hours passed between the first shooting and arrest. Godbolt said he didn’t plan to be captured alive.

“My intentions was to have God kill me. I ran out of bullets,” he said. “Suicide by cop was my intention.”

Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said prosecutors plan to charge Godbolt with murder. It’s unclear what the motive for the shooting is at this time. 

Authorities gave no details on his relationship to the victims, but a member of Godbolt’s church told the Associated Press that everyone but the deputy was related to Godbolt by blood or marriage.

“Everybody that got killed was related to him, except the deputy,” said Johnny Hall Sr., a longtime member of the New Zion Union M.B. Church in Bogue Chitto, not far from the initial crime scene, where he said Godbolt also was a member.

Godbolt himself shed some light on what happened, in an interview he gave to The Clarion-Ledgeras he sat with his hands cuffed behind his back on the side of a road in Brookhaven, about 70 miles south of Jackson.

“I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mama and her, my wife, about me taking my children home,” he said. “Somebody called the officer, people that didn’t even live at the house. That’s what they do. They intervene.”

“They cost him his life,” he said, apparently referring to Durr. “I’m sorry.”

“My pain wasn’t designed for him. He was just there,” Godbolt said. “I ain’t fit to live, not after what I done.”

Durr, 36, was married and had an 11-year-old son, Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said.

Off duty, he was a ventriloquist who took his puppets to schools and churches. Two weeks ago, Durr entertained preschoolers at Brookhaven Academy, a Christian school in town. The message he shared was that — like fireflies — people can use their inner light to help those around them.

“His character: top-notch,” said Page Nelson, the school’s elementary principal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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