The sheriff's deputy killed during a Mississippi shooting rampage was a father, husband and former pastor who "loved to lead children to the Lord", his family and friends have revealed.
"He was a good Christian man," Debbie Durr said of her late husband, Wiliam Durr. "He was a youth minister and a pastor before going into law enforcement."
She also revealed that her husband sometimes went into local schools with puppets and acted as a ventriloquist for the children. The children would sing "Yes, Jesus loves me," as Durr used a bird puppet to deliver a religious message to them.
"William loved to use his gifts to entertain children. He will truly be missed and we are all in prayer for his family and loved ones," Brookhaven Academy wrote on Facebook. "We're praying for all the hurting families that lost loved ones in this tragic event. Revelation 21:4 | Psalm 34:18."
Durr, a two-year veteran of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, was killed when he responded to a domestic violence call in rural Mississippi on May 28. The suspect, 35-year-old Willie Corey Godbolt, is accused of murdering eight people in a shooting spree that spanned three different homes and targeted his estranged wife's family. The estranged wife escaped, but many of her family members did not, including her mother, aunt, two sisters, and brother-in-law.
Zach Harveston, who has worked as a dispatcher at the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department for two years, said he was shaken by Durr's death.
"He loved to lead children to the good Lord," Harveston said. "He was just a natural-born servant of the good Lord here at the department and even in the church he served in."
Others remembered Durr, who leaves behind an 11-year-old son, as a "Child of God" and a "Brother in Christ", and one man, Aubrey Chance, shared photos on Facebook of the late officer helping baptize him.
On Monday, investigators said Godbolt will be charged with one count of capital murder and seven counts of first degree murder. Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said the charges could change as the investigation continues.
The Bureau identified some of those killed as: Barbara Mitchell, 55; Brenda May, 53; Tocarra May, 35; Ferral Burage, 45; and Shelia Burage, 46. The parents of Austin Edwards and Jordan Blackwell identified their sons as the other victims.
Godbolt's stepfather-in-law, Vincent Mitchell, told The Associated Press that Godbolt's wife and their two children had been staying at his Bogue Chitto home for about three weeks after she left her husband because of domestic violence.
"He'd come to get his kids. The deputy was called," Mitchell said.
The deputy asked Godbolt to leave, and at first, it seemed like Godbolt would comply, he 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."
Godbolt later told a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, Apel, he did not plan on being captured alive and confessed to murdering Durr.
"My intentions was to have God kill me. I ran out of bullets," he said. "Suicide by cop was my intention."
"My pain wasn't designed for him," Godbolt told reporters of Durr. "He was just there. We was talking about me taking my children, and auntie called the police. I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy, and her momma, and her, my wife, about me taking my children home, and someone called... People who didn't even live at the house. That's what they do. They intervene. They cost him his life, I'm sorry."
Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi, released a statement praying for those who were lost and mentioned the sacrifice of the deputy sheriff.
"I ask all Mississippians to join Deborah and me in praying for those lost in Lincoln County," he said on Facebook. "Every day, the men and women who wear the badge make some measure of sacrifice to protect and serve their communities. Too often, we lose one of our finest. I thank the law enforcement agencies involved for their hard work. May the peace of the Almighty wash over those hurting after this senseless tragedy."