Investigators have more questions than answers regarding the circumstances of a shooting that killed a man whose body was found Thursday in a decorative chair that was part of a downtown art installation.
Police say railroad workers found Justin “Jay” Burton, 23, shot dead under the bridge near Bo Diddley Pavilion in McComb and notified police, who arrived at the scene around 9:30 a.m.
Officers found Burton with a single gunshot wound to the head, his body slumped over in a hand-painted Adirondack chair facing east toward the railroad tracks.
Police couldn’t immediately identify Burton, who wasn’t carrying any identification when he was found. Investigators speculated they’d need to resort to dental or fingerprint records to positively identify him, but that changed when an officer at the scene recognized Burton as a worker at the McDonald’s restaurant on Delaware Avenue, Detective Victoria Carter said.
One thing investigators know for certain is that Burton was shot at the scene where he was found — not killed elsewhere and moved to the chairs underneath the bridge.
Carter said police haven’t recovered the weapon used in the killing, and detectives wouldn’t speculate on what type of gun or caliber was used in the shooting pending the completion of an autopsy. Burton’s body has been taken to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Pearl, Carter said.
She said Burton appeared to have died not long before his body was found.
Police have not identified any suspects and, despite the lack of a weapon being found at the scene, detectives are considering the probe a general “death investigation” and not a homicide specifically.
Police also are reviewing footage from surveillance video from nearby businesses, but Carter wouldn’t say whether that’s been helpful, citing the ongoing investigation.
Carter said police aren’t sure whether anybody witnessed the shooting, but if anyone did they hadn’t come forward with any information.
Little is known about Burton’s background.
He recently moved to McComb from New Orleans and has family here.
Burton managed a popular Instagram account (@girlheuglyyy) with over 17,000 followers. He also produced music under the name FreeFall Thirteen and indicated online he was a comedian and musician with roots in the 13th Ward of New Orleans.
A memorial cropped up over the weekend in Burton’s memory. An assortment of items — including a Bible and Cross leaned up next to a bottle of gin, a half-consumed bottle of malt liquore and a box of macaroni and cheese stuffed inside of a Raisin’ Canes cup has been placed in the spot where Burton’s body was found last week.
Two balloons and a stuffed bear are tied to the metal loops that tethered the since-removed decorative chair to the concrete slab.
When asked if investigators believe the incident might be related to Burton’s ties to New Orleans or to his life in McComb, Carter said that aspect is still under active investigation.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the McComb Police Department at (601) 684-3023 or Crimestoppers at (601) 684-0033.