Sheriff’s office investigating man’s death after Panola County altercation

Sheriff’s office investigating man’s death after Panola County altercation
Panola County man beaten on Mt. Olive Rd. dies in hospital (Source: WMC)

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Deputies in Panola County say they are investigating an altercation that left a man in extremely critical condition and eventually led to his death.

On Monday, members of the investigative team addressed rumors about the situation spreading on social media.

The Panola County Sheriff’s Office says victim, Michael Gaines, was in an altercation near a bend on Mt. Olivet Road Friday night.

According to the Panola County Coroner, Gaines was pronounced dead at 8 a.m. Monday. The autopsy explaining his cause of death is pending.

After the incident, investigators say rumors spread quickly online and officials held a news conference Monday with the purpose of dispelling many of those rumors.

“I know that there have been a lot of things that are simply not accurate,” said John Champion, Panola County district attorney.

Champion says rumors on social media that a group of people was attacking motorists or that the victim pulled over to help a stranded driver when he was attacked are not true.

“Hopefully, the public will feel a little bit more at ease concerning the rumors that are going around right now,” said Champion.

“I do not want the people of this county to be afraid of driving up and down the county roads,” said Panola County Sheriff Shane Phelps.

As for what did actually happen Friday night, officials aren’t saying much as they continue to investigate.

“Initial statements that came out we have determined not to be exactly accurate so we’re having to restart things and re-interview and that’s where we are at this point,” said Champion.

Champion says no suspects are currently in custody but Monday investigators were planning to question persons of interest.

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