November 23, 2020

Suspect gets $2 million bond in killings of firefighters, details emerge of events leading up to shooting

A Mississippi man charged in the March 1 double homicide of two volunteer firefighters received a $2 million bond Wednesday morning in Sixth District Circuit Court.

Jonathan Beach, 36, faces two counts of murder following the fatal shootings that occurred after the Krewe of Phoenix Mardi Gras Parade and just before midnight on March 1 on Quasar Street, located just off of U.S. 61 North.

The shootings killed Jason Haley, 34, and Troy Whittington, 31, both volunteer firefighters. Beach also was injured in the shooting.

During Wednesday’s bond hearing before Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Lillie Blackmon-Sanders, defense attorney Paul Sullivan and prosecuting attorney Pam Ferrington of the Sixth Judicial District Attorney’s Office questioned family members and investigators in an effort to determine whether Beach would be a flight risk or whether he might commit any crimes if he were allowed a bond.

During questioning, Adam County Sheriff’s Office investigators Priester Byrne and Frank Smith said telephone records from the day of the shootings revealed that Beach had contacted his estranged wife, Ashley Beach, earlier that day and arranged to pick up one of their children from the residence to spend the night and bring the child back for a birthday party the next day.

Just after 10 p.m. on March 1, deputies responded to a call about a disturbance at the residence and retrieved a deer camera from the front porch that investigators said they believed John Beach had left there.

Smith said Ashley Beach texted her husband later that evening and said the child was ill. When Jonathan Beach replied, “OK, so what do you want me to do?” she texted back, “Nothing,” Smith said.

After the exchange, investigators said Jonathan continued to attempt to contact Ashley Beach, and she did not respond.

The investigators said they also believed Ashley Beach had been having a sexual affair with Whittington, but said Jonathan Beach seemingly had no knowledge of the affair prior to the shooting.

More 911 calls were received within an hour of the first, stating that Beach was near the residence, Byrne said, and the shooting occurred before deputies arrived.

All three men were armed during the shooting, Byrne said, adding that only Beach and Haley fired their weapons and it remains unclear who fired first.

Smith said witnesses who had barricaded themselves in a room of the house heard Haley and Whittington tell Jonathan Beach to leave the house and informed him that deputies were on the way.

Both of the deceased were near the entrance to the residence, Smith said, and Jonathan Beach remained on the scene until deputies arrived.

In a Southern District Justice Court hearing on March 12, Jonathan Beach had been ordered to have no contact with his wife, Ashley Beach, or their children.

In Wednesday’s hearing, Sullivan also asked to have the order prohibiting contact between Jonathan Beach and his children erased so he would be allowed to visit them if released.

However, Blackmon-Sanders said the issue of visitation should be taken to the Chancery Court, adding that the Circuit Court would not address it.