Police say shooting of Mississippi judge appeared ‘personal’

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Monday morning shooting of a Lauderdale County Chancery Court judge was “personal,” Meridian Police said Tuesday.

Judge Charles E. Smith, a chancellor for the 12th Chancery District of Mississippi and family court judge, was shot outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse as he exited his truck, according to police.

“This incident and shooting, we feel very confident that it is an isolated incident and that it was directed toward him,” said Interim Police Chief Lewis Robbins.

Smith was taken to a hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound in his lower back and later transferred to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Meridian Police Lt. Rita Jack said.

Jack said Tuesday that, according to Smith’s family, he was no longer in critical condition and was making progress in his recovery.

“We are continuing to follow leads. We are continuing to investigate. We are continuing to look at suspects in reference to this shooting,” Robbins said. “We’re doing everything that we can to bring this to a closure.”

Meridian police and Lauderdale County Sheriff’s personnel responded to the scene around 7:15 a.m. and closed off 20th Avenue between 5th Street and 4th Street.

There is no suspect or vehicle description and police have not recovered a gun, Jack said.

Police will be reviewing surveillance video.

Smith, who took the oath of office in January 2019, served as Youth Court prosecutor from 1983-2014, and as a Lauderdale County prosecutor for more than three years, according to the State of Mississippi Judiciary.

The 12th Chancery District includes Clarke and Lauderdale Counties.