Tonya Thrailkill appears in court. (Photo by Mark Thornton)


Woman admits to shooting at teens in park after reporting robbery

An Alabama woman who tried to take justice into her own hands after being robbed will be in the justice system for the next few years.

Tonya Thrailkill, 36, was ordered to serve five years in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections after pleading guilty in Jones County Circuit Court to attempted aggravated assault.

She admitted to hunting down and shooting at two teenagers she believed stole money and medication from her in April 2018.

Ellisville police officers Jason Mills and Capt. Billy Ryan responded to her call that two young black men had “stepped out and robbed her of $100 and 98 Suboxone pills” as she was traveling down Dubose Street, Assistant District Attorney Dennis Bisnette said. 

About an hour later, the officers got a call that a vehicle was stuck in Dubose Park and a woman was firing a gun at two teens in the park. She used a .22-caliber pistol to shoot twice in the direction of two young black men who were in the park, then fired four more shots at them as they ran away. She believed they were the young men who robbed her, Bisnette said.

“They said they were just sitting in the park when a white woman started shooting at them,” he said.

Thrailkill at first said she fired in the air, but the victims and witnesses refuted that, saying she fired at the young men. She eventually admitted that she “went looking for the people who robbed her,” Bisnette said.

Thrailkill posted $7,500 bond and was released from the Jones County Adult Detention Center right after the shooting. She was later indicted then arrested in Huntsville, Ala., in May. She was returned to the jail to await trial, but public defender Michael Mitchell and Bisnette reached a plea agreement.

Thrailkill, who has no prior felonies on her record, said she lived in Ellisville for five years, worked at the Subway there and was taking Suboxone to try to beat an addiction.

“I was trying to get off pain medication, and I had just got my prescription filled,” she told the judge.

Suboxone is a medication that’s used to treat opiate addiction.

“You can’t take the law into your own hands, and just take a gun and go out and shoot at somebody,” Judge Dal Williamson said.

In addition to the prison time, Thrailkill will have to spend five years on post-release supervision under MDOC, participate in the court’s community service program and pay court fees and fines of $1,92.50.

“It is a wonder no one was hurt in this incident,” Chief Bruce Russell of the EPD posted on the department’s Facebook page shortly after the shooting.

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