Meridian Star

Local News

January 10, 2013

Investigation into gun found in jail continues

MERIDIAN —     The investigation into how a gun got into the hands of an inmate inside the Lauderdale County Adult Detention Facility in Meridian is still ongoing according to Lauderdale County Sheriffs Department officials.

    A handgun was found last week on an inmate, Anthony Duane Talley Jr., 31, of Meridian, during a search. The .380 caliber, semiautomatic handgun was reportedly found in Talley's underwear. LCSD officials said Talley had no ammunition or a clip for the gun. But the fact Talley, who had been in the jail since June 2012 for felon in possession of a firearm and felony fleeing and eluding of law enforcement through the Meridian Police Department, had a firearm at all has prompted Sheriff Billy Sollie to instruct his men to find out exactly how the gun made its way into Talley's hands.

    "Any weapon found in jail, whether brought in from the outside or made on the inside, is cause for great concern," said Sollie Wednesday. "The fact this was a firearm does raise the level."

    Talley has another charge of felon in possession of a firearm added to his list of offenses plus the added charge of possession of contraband inside a detention facility. Other charges may be forthcoming depending on the findings of the investigation.

    Sollie said the discovery of the gun, found during a search of Talley and his cell after a disturbance, brought reality to the forefront. He said additional precautions have been made since the incident. Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun said a window pane that had been forced loose in another part of the jail could be the method in which the gun got inside the jail.

    "But there could be others as well," Calhoun added. "We are looking at all the possibilities and we haven't determined yet just how the gun got into the jail."

    The window pane was fixed the day the gun was discovered.

    Sollie noted that in the last year alone, about 5,000 people were booked into the jail. Sollie said that is a lot of opportunity for someone to smuggle in any type of weapon or contraband and a lot of chances in which something could be overlooked by jail staff.

    Sollie said this incident is a reminder of just how criminals can get weapons if they are determined to do so. He said with the gun control controversy heating up in the wake of Newtown, Conn., taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens is not the answer.

    "If you take guns out of the hands of citizens, then the criminals will be the only ones who are armed," Sollie said.

    In the drawer of Sollie's desk is an instrument confiscated during the successful escape of a prisoner in 1999. It is a makeshift tool made from different materials in the jail that have nothing to do with weapons and yet this person was able to craft this "screwdriver" and use it to assist his escape by unscrewing screws that contractors who built the jail claimed were impervious to tampering.

    "Where there is a will, there is a way," Sollie said.

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