A Summit man was fatally wounded in an apparent accidental shooting in McComb early Sunday, leading to his friend being charged with manslaughter.
Officers responded to a report of shots fired near the intersection of Summit Street and Higgins Drive at about 12:30 a.m., where they found Austin D. Wanzo, 20, wounded by a gunshot nearby at the corner of Summit Street and Moore Avenue.
He was transported to Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
Lacurtis Hackett, 20, of 1020 Jeanette Lane, Summit, who has been charged in the case, was found waiting at the scene with his father and the man who was in the car when Wanzo was shot.
Prosecutors said in an arraignment for Hackett in McComb Municipal Court on Monday morning that Wanzo, Hackett and the unidentified third man were in Wanzo’s 2005 Toyota Camry when a single bullet struck him in the back.
“You did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kill and slay Austin Derek Wanzo, a human being, by culpable negligence by shooting the victim once in the back,” Municipal Judge Brandon Frazier read at Hackett’s Monday morning arraignment.
Hackett told police the shooting was accidental.
He called police to report the shooting and waited at the scene for investigators to arrive, Frazier said.
Hackett told investigators he was seated in the rear passenger seat and handling a Springfield XD .45ACP semi-automatic handgun when it discharged and struck Wanzo, who was in the driver’s seat.
The other man was in the front passenger seat and told detectives that the three, who were all friends, were talking in the vehicle when he heard a gunshot and leapt out of the slowly moving vehicle in fear.
Hackett said the vehicle doors were open and Wanzo fell out of the driver’s side door after he was shot. Hackett said he called 911 to report the shooting and waited on scene for his father and the police to arrive.
Hackett is being held in the Pike County Jail on a manslaughter charge on $25,000 bond.
Frazier said that while the normal range of bond on a manslaughter charge is between $10,000 and $1 million, Hackett has no criminal record, reported the shooting himself, stayed at the scene until police arrived and cooperated with investigators — all factors that influenced his judgement.
“This appears to be your first time charged with a felony,” Frazier said. “And it appears that you were the person that reported the alleged crime.”
After news of the shooting spread, many of Wanzo’s friends and classmates expressed sadness over the incident. He was remembered widely as a kind person and talented athlete.
Rep. Daryl Porter Jr. of Summit expressed sadness Sunday on his Facebook page.
“Another innocent Black life taken. The gun violence has got to stop and it’s going to take our entire community to change these circumstances,” Porter said. “I’m praying for the Wanzo family and all the other local families that have experienced loss of loved ones.”