GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – A man claiming to be Roderick Bowers, a wanted murder suspect, called WLOX News Monday afternoon to explain himself and clarify what he says are lies being told about him.
Bowers first called WLOX around 3:10 p.m. asking to speak to the WLOX reporter who originally reported on the story. He then began speaking to another WLOX employee, claiming that statements witnesses told police after the Sunday morning shooting were lies.
Gulfport police identified Bowers as the suspect involved in a shooting that left 32-year-old Cruz Johnson dead and another person injured on Sunday morning.
Johnson was shot multiple times in a car outside a home on 47th Avenue, said police. He died from his injuries. According to officials with Gulfport police, Bowers was also a suspect in a kidnapping that happened Nov. 6. Bowers allegedly kidnapped a woman that he had been in a previous relationship with, according to reports. She was found safe a day later.
Bowers, who is on the run, told WLOX he plans to turn himself into police after he first takes care of a few things.
Here’s the information Bowers told WLOX through two separate phone calls.
According to Bowers, he claims he has three children with the woman who he “allegedly kidnapped”, which he claims is the same person who received non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting Sunday. Bowers claimed the woman grabbed the gun, and that’s how her hand got shot.
Bowers claims he wanted the woman to take the kids for a time because he has a relative who had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Bowers said the woman and Johnson (the shooting victim who died) were coworkers and the two had a relationship.
When asked about the morning of the shooting, Bowers said, “Yesterday morning, when I saw them, I just lost it.”
Bowers claims the two brought “it all on themselves”.
“I’m very close to my kids. I lost my kids when she went to prison two or three years ago. When she was in prison, we were doing fine until she got out,” he said. “This man took away my kids.”
Bowers claims some of the statements made against him by witnesses were not true.
“They’re trying to make it look like I went back after her or him for the alleged kidnapping,” he said. “I went at him for comments he made about my kids.”
Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said both the shooting and the kidnapping are connected.
Bowers told WLOX he also lost it on the night of the reported kidnapping. He claims Johnson had been harassing him.
“When I saw him [Johnson] with the woman I’ve been with for nine years… I lost it,” Bowers said. “I’m not saying I’m right, but they provoked me real strong.”
In the calls, Bowers claims the victims told him he wouldn’t see his kids again.
“[She] just took me to a place I didn’t want to be…. I’ve done a lot of things, but one thing I’ve always been a good father,” he said.
Bowers ended the call with promising to turn himself in to police custody.
Police are asking the public for help to locate Bowers. If you see him or have knowledge of his whereabouts, please call Gulfport police immediately at 228-868-5900. Police advise not to approach him because he is considered armed and dangerous. Tips can also be left anonymous by contacting Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers online or by phone at 877-787-5898.
WLOX is cooperating with the Gulfport Police Department with this investigation and have relayed the necessary information to authorities.
We will continue to provide accurate and up-to-date coverage