A Gulfport man is headed to prison for eight years after admitting he fired a 12-gauge shotgun at a motorist in Long Beach during a road rage incident.
Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced Tommy Josh Payne to 20 years in prison, with 12 years suspended and eight years to serve.
Payne, 21, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of drive-by shooting in the Aug. 13, 2020, crime on U.S. 90 near Mason Avenue in Long Beach.
“You are lucky you are not here on a capital murder charge,” Bourgeois said after also ordering Payne to serve five additional years on post-release supervision and fined him $2,000. He was also ordered to pay the victim $1,000 in restitution to cover the costs for repairs to the victim’s vehicle.
“People could be dead because of your actions,” Bourgeois said. “You fired over your wife, who was pregnant at the time. You shot your own window out, and two more people were in the (other) car, and they were shot at. Multiple gunshots, is that right? Of course, that’s what happens when you shoot at something with a 12-gauge shotgun.”
Payne’s attorney, Theressia Lyons, pointed out before the July 27 sentencing that Payne has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, which she said causes the individual to “act impulsively at times.”
“What about the marijuana, the heroin and the methamphetamine that he said he ingested that day?” the judge asked.
Lyons appealed to the judge for leniency for Payne, asking the judge to consider sending Payne to prison for 3 years, but the judge rejected the request.
“I think that night what happened is Mr. Payne was just scared,” Lyons said. “It was a road rage incident that just turned ugly, your honor.”
Lyons said Payne feels remorse for his actions.
The shooting happened after Payne attempted unsuccessfully to pass the other vehicle due to other traffic.
The victim flagged a Long Beach police officer down to report the shooting shortly after it occurred around 10:30 p.m. in the eastbound lane of Highway 90.
According to reports, the victim and a passenger were headed east on 90 when Payne attempted to pass the victim’s pickup truck but could not do so because of traffic.
Long Beach police found multiple bullet holes in the driver’s side door of the victim’s pickup truck.
The victim identified the suspect’s vehicle, which led to Payne’s arrest a short distance from the scene.
Payne initially denied intentionally firing at the vehicle.
Before sentencing, Payne addressed the judge.
“I’m really sorry for my actions, and I regret everything,” he said. “I really want a second chance.”
The judge told Payne he could have gone to prison for the maximum sentence of 30 years.
“That’s more time that you have spent on the face of the earth, and you know who you got to blame for it?” Bourgeois asked.
“Myself,” Payne said.
Assistant District Attorney George Huffman prosecuted the case.
The road rage shooting involving Payne is just one of several to occur in South Mississippi in recent years. Here’s a look at a few:
Janvique Entrael Franklin Jr., of Hammond, Louisiana, is awaiting trial in Jackson County on a second-degree murder charge in a May 25, 2020, shooting death of Brandon Box, 30. According to authorities, a dispute between the two motorists stretched 17 miles before Box was killed on I-10.
Rose Madge Madison is charged with first-degree murder in the July 8, 2021, road rage incident that ultimately led to the death of Antoine Johnson, 26, in Gulfport. According to authorities, Madison followed Johnson for miles after he allegedly pulled a gun on her while the two were in separate vehicles in Gulfport. Madison started shooting, police said, while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.
Luis Soto Jr. is serving a 40-year day-for-day sentence for fatally shooting one motorist and shooting and injuring two others in Jackson County in a Jan. 25, 2018, road rage case. The shooting happened after Soto got angry at two military service members during a game of pool at a Jackson County bar, and Soto pulled out a gun. When the service members left the bar, Soto followed them, shooting and injuring them in their pickup truck. Afterward, Soto shot and killed motorist Leland Sumrall, who was stopped on his motorcycle then. Sumrall had no involvement in the other incident but was headed home from work at Ingall’s Shipbuilding at the time of his killing.