Ex-murder suspect says weapon he fired into eatery wasn’t a rifle

It’s not known whether the gun was an assault-style rifle or a BB gun. But it is known that the man carrying it is a repeater.

Ray Chapman, 49, who avoided prosecution in a capital murder charge and aggravated assault charge in recent years, is accused of shooting into his nephew’s restaurant and badly beating another man at the nightclub Norman’s. Both businesses are in Hebron.

“It was a BB gun, your honor,” Chapman said during his initial appearance in Jones County Justice Court on Tuesday.

Chapman told a reporter that the BB gun looks like an assault-style rifle. He did not deny beating the other man, saying it was just part of his job.

“I’m security at the bar, man,” Chapman said as he was being escorted from the courtroom back to jail. “I’m a bouncer.”

A few minutes earlier, Chapman told Judge Billie Graham that he works as a handyman and did concrete and tire work.

Chapman is accused of shooting through a window at Chapman’s Crossroads Kitchen on Aug. 13, according to the affidavit that Graham read in court. Video surveillance that Sgt. Keith LeRoy of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department saw showed Chapman walking by, carrying the AR-style rifle.

The eatery was closed at the time but an employee was inside working, according to the affidavit. The bullet went through the window and shattered it, and the replacement cost was $1,200.

Chapman had worked at the restaurant for his nephew Travis Shelby but was fired before the shooting, LeRoy said.

While the JCSD was looking for Chapman on that charge, he beat up a man at Norman’s on Sept. 4, according to the affidavit. Jasper Shelby went to South Central Regional Medical Center and was transferred to University Medical Center because of a fracture of the orbital wall around his right eye, Graham said, reading from the affidavit. That case is being investigated by Sgt. J.D. Carter of the JCSD.

Chapman was arrested Tuesday morning. He is charged with aggravated assault, shooting into an occupied dwelling and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

He told the judge that he lives with his mother on Summerland Road. Graham set his bond at $15,000.

Chapman was convicted of grand larceny in 2011, LeRoy told the judge, which means he isn’t allowed to have a firearm.

In August 2017, Chapman was charged with aggravat- ed assault and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon after being accused of shooting a 31-year-old man on a bicycle in the leg in front of Chapman’s uncle’s house on Royce Pool Road. He was out on $35,000 bond the next day — after also having to pay $1,305 in fines for possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license.

The District Attorney’s Office later had to dismiss the case because the victim didn’t want to testify.

In October 2014, Chapman and then-43-year-old Patrick Ducksworth were charged with capital murder in the death of 58-year-old Tommy Joe Lewis. The victim had wire wrapped around his neck and was beaten with a baseball bat and burned in his mobile home at 52 Carter Dees Road. He was known to sell convenience-store items from his residence and to carry large amounts of cash.

The suspects were charged with capital murder because the victim was killed during the commission of a robbery and committed arson to try to cover it up, investigators said.

But the murder case “fell apart” because of a lack of evidence and a lack of willing or credible witnesses with information about the crime, District Attorney Tony Buckley said at the time.

“We didn’t even have enough to get an indict- ment,” Buckley said. “Some were scared, some might have been involved and some were on crack.”

Chapman pleaded guilty to two counts of non residential burglary and receiving stolen property in 2010. He was released from prison after serving a fraction of his sentence, but was sent back last year by Circuit Judge Dal Williamson to serve the remainder after violating the terms of his post-release supervision.

Buckley said that the capital murder case is still open and investigators from his office and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department were continuing to investigate it.

Chapman told Graham that he had been “off paper for a year or two,” meaning he was no longer on probation.

Ducksworth was eventually ordered to serve 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. That plea agreement came in a retrial after he represented himself in court and argued his way to a hung jury. He was sen- tenced as a habitual offender, meaning he will have to serve all 10 years with no chance for early release. He had past convictions of armed robbery and possession of cocaine.

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