Jordan Blackwell died a hero, shielding his 15-year-old cousin Caleb from the bullets when a man barged into their Brookhaven (Miss.) home in the middle of the night in a hail of gunfire.
The home on 1658 Coopertown Road was the second stop in a three-home shooting rampage that began late Saturday night and ended early Sunday morning with the arrest of suspect Willie Corey Godbolt. Eight people, including a deputy, died.
Jordan, 18, was on his way into his senior year. A talented linebacker, he had started receiving interest from colleges, and his family was particularly excited about a letter he’d received from Jackson State University.
His cousin, Austin Edwards, 11, who was also killed, had been looking forward to a day of fishing with his grandfather and his uncle on Monday. Fishing was one of his favorite things.
The nightmare started when Jordan’s mother, Tiffany, got a call from best friend Sheena May in Bogue Chitto, who said that Godbolt had come into her home and shot people.
“When she called me she told me something had happened and somebody had gotten shot,” Tiffany Blackwell said, adding she hadn’t really processed what May was telling her. “I told my husband and my sister and my other friend who was here, ‘I need to go be with Sheena.'”
Tiffany and her husband, Shon Blackwell, and Shayla Edwards, mother of Austin and Caleb Edwards, and another friend left to go to Bogue Chitto to check on Sheena, never thinking it would be unsafe to leave several older children in the home in the middle of the night.
Alexandria Blackwell, 21, and another cousin were in a back bedroom.
Jordan was walking down the hall, talking on FaceTime with his girlfriend when the shooting started. Caleb and Austin, 11, were in the living room with other friends playing a game. Xavier Lilly, 16, got a call from his mother who told him “something was wrong with Corey,” and to lock the door and not let anyone in except Shon and the other adults.
Caleb said when they heard the first gunshot, they thought it was a firecracker. Then they heard another one. Stunned, they dove for cover behind a big recliner next to the couch. Several shots later, they said Godbolt kicked the door open. He had been shooting at the lock.
“I knew exactly who it was, when we started hearing it, I knew it was him,” Caleb said.
Bullets threw pieces of the door, the walls and the floor and a fishtank stand all over the room as they said Godbolt shot the door lock until he could kick the door in. At the time, there were around 12 kids in the house, Shon Blackwell said, from Alexandria, 21, down to 3-year-old McKinley Edwards.
When Godbolt got inside, Caleb said, he looked at Jordan.
“Where’s your mama and daddy?” Godbolt asked.
“They’re in Bogue Chitto,” Jordan said.
Then Caleb said Godbolt shot Jordan and Austin. Jordan was protecting Caleb with his body, and Caleb said all he could guess was that Austin got scared.
“I guess he popped up and he shot him,” Caleb said.
Caleb’s eye was cut when he was grazed by something — he doesn’t know if it was a piece of shrapnel or an actual bullet — but he said at one point he thought he’d been hit in the head by a bullet, but it was the impact of Jordan’s head hitting his.
Family members said Godbolt then told Xavier that he was going to drive him to East Lincoln Road in Brookhaven, and he took the teen at gunpoint. He was set free when he got to the location, the final scene on the rampage.
“(Godbolt) left and I tried to wake them up and they wouldn’t answer; then I went to my brother and tried to wake him up and he wouldn’t wake up,” said Caleb. He was covered in his cousin’s blood and shaken to the core.
Then he realized he had to find McKinley.
“I had to talk to my sister and tell her about everything,” he said.
When Tiffany and Shon Blackwell and Shayla Edwards got home, they had been warned, but they weren’t ready for what they found.
“Tiffany got the phone call to check on her kids,” Shayla Edwards said. “Then my son called to tell my sister that Corey had shot Jordan and Austin, so we rushed there. When we got there, we saw the kids coming out of their hiding spots.”
Caleb tried to tell his mother not to go inside, but the adults did. They had to.
“A nightmare. I couldn’t believe when I walked in the house. I saw his body on the floor, and my nephew on the couch. My sister and I were trying to wake them up, we told them to get up, but they didn’t,” Shayla Edwards said. “It all feels like a dream. I feel like I’m getting ready to wake up and my son will be coming down that hall talking noise like he does.”
“All I know is that while we were consoling his wife’s family, he was at my sister’s home killing our children,” she said.
“My brother and my cousin were good people. They didn’t deserve this,” Alexandria Blackwell said, her eyes filling with tears. “I would have never thought something like that would happen, that I would come over here and see my brother laid out on that floor.”