The sheriff’s deputy killed during a Mississippi shooting rampage was a father and husband who was remembered for his religious faith. The deputy recently gave a little girl he didn’t know the “back the blue” bracelet off his wrist.
The small child told her mother that William Durr was “that good cop,” the mother recounted on Facebook. In tribute after tribute, others agreed. Durr sometimes went into local schools with puppets and acted as a ventriloquist for the children. “Yes, Jesus loves me,” the children sang as Durr used a bird puppet to deliver a religious message to them.
Durr was described as having a good heart, and he was deeply religious. One man shared photos on Facebook of Durr helping baptize him (you can see them below). “He really loved making children smile,” wrote the man, Aubrey Chance.
Before joining the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, Durr, 36, had worked as a police officer in another jurisdiction.
Durr was murdered when he responded to a domestic violence call in rural Mississippi on May 28. The suspect, Willie Corey Godbolt is accused of murdering eight people in a shooting spree that spanned three different homes and targeted his estranged wife’s family. The estranged wife escaped, but many of her family members did not, including her mother, aunt, two sisters, and brother-in-law.
His name is sometimes given as Willie Cory Godbolt and Cory or Corey Godbolt.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Durr Was Remembered as a ‘Child of God’ Who Reached Out to Friends in Need & Used Puppets to Entertain Children
Nathan Case, a minister and friend of Durr’s, wrote a lengthy, heartfelt statement about the slain deputy on Facebook. Durr had sent Case a Bible verse in a text message exchange. The post by Case read:
Growing up in a community like Brookhaven, you meet people when your young that you will know the rest of your life. One of the lifetime friends for me was William Durr. Over the years, life had drawn us together in several different ways. Each time, we would pick up with the retelling of childhood memories that always brought a smile to our face. His laughter was contagious. I can remember him calling me and being so tickled that he had saw the ‘mayor of Hilltop’ somewhere in the wild. He would laugh so much, he could barely get the story out. Time would pass and we’d pick up right where we’d left off. We shared a lot of laughs, but several tears too. I can remember being at Macedonia and just hugging him. He had just lost his daddy. I remember answering a call and hearing the words, I love you man, when he found out about my daddy. He understood. He cared. I will remember William Durr as an officer, husband, father, ventriloquist, and friend. But I will never forget him as a brother in Christ. How do I know? November 20th, 2017.
Ava Grace had been in the NICU for over a month. We were tired. We were weary. Exhausted. It was just a day where I was down. Then I got a text. I was so upset I didn’t want to look at it, but I did. It was from William Durr. This picture is what it said. I share this because that is who William was. Above all else. He was a child of God. I thank God that he allowed our paths to cross and I pray for all that mourn this day.
Here’s the photo that Case shared. “God is so good,” Durr wrote in the text message exchange with Case, sharing a Bible verse:
According to NBC News, the slain deputy was a two-year veteran of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.
Before that, he served as a Brookhaven, Mississippi police officer for four years, according to NBC.
Brookhaven Academy shared a series of videos of Durr using puppets as a ventriloquist.
“William loved to use his gifts to entertain children. He will truly be missed and we are all in prayer for his family and loved ones,” the academy wrote on Facebook. “We’re praying for all the hurting families that lost loved ones in this tragic event. Revelation 21:4 | Psalm 34:18.”
2. Durr Responded to a Domestic Call & Three Women Were Found Dead at the Same Scene
The shooting spree broke out when Durr responded to a domestic call. His body was discovered near the bodies of three women, who have not yet been formally identified, reports NBC.
According to NBC, the suspect then went to two other homes, killing two boys and an adult man and woman. The ages and identifies of those victims have also not been released by authorities. Godbolt’s stepfather-in-law, Vincent Mitchell, told ABC7 that Godbolt’s wife and their two children “had been staying at his Bogue Chitto home for about three weeks after she left her husband.” Mitchell told the television station that Godbolt’s wife escaped but Mitchell’s wife, her sister and another daughter were among those killed.
According to CNN, some of the victims “were another of Godbolt’s wife’s sisters, as well as her husband.”
The Clarion-Ledger named some of the victims as Barbara Mitchell; her daughter, Toccarra May; and Mitchell’s sister, Brenda May.
A local church posted a list of the victims on Facebook, and people shared photo tributes of them.
A correctional officer who knew Durr wrote on Facebook, “WE WILL MISS YOU WILLIAM DURR! THIS IS A TREMENDOUS BLOW TO LINCOLN COUNTY S.O. WE ARE MORE THAN COWORKERS, WE’RE FAMILY. PLEASE KEEP LCSO IN YOUR PRAYERS AS WELL AS DURR’S FAMILY…. I AM STILL AT A LOST FOR WORDS! #senseless #prayforlcso #bluelivesmatter.”
A state trooper wrote on Facebook that Durr had a “good heart.”
“It infuriates me to my core that Deputy William Durr will no longer be able to go home to his family because of a weak coward,” the trooper wrote. “Durr went through my patrol school for a majority of our class and had a good heart that meant well. We never know the situations we may face when we approach them but people with bad intentions already know what they are going/willing to do. I pray for all families involved as this will be a challenge that will be hard to overcome.”
Another friend wrote: “My heart is broken for my school mate. And dear friend LCSO William Durr. And all the victims who were killed. William was a great man. Who loved his family and most of all he loved the Lord.”
3. Durr Once Worked at an Adolescent Center & Helped Baptize a Man
According to the Daily Leader, Durr is the first Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy to die in the line of duty.
Clarion-Ledger reporter Therese Apel tweeted that Durr is a husband and father.
Aubrey Lee Chance shared photos on Facebook of Durr baptizing him.
Prayers for William’s family. He really loved making children smile. I thank God we were able to catch up at the Relay For Life this year. He told me a story while there. He told me that he loved me and sister before he even knew us. He worked with my mom at Mississippi Adolescent Center. She had kept pictures of us in her binder. One day he asked about us and invited us all to New Hope UMC in Loyd Star. I’m so glad that he did. That was my first church family, and I made life long friends and family. My heart is broken. I can’t believe this. Please hold your loved ones tight this weekend. Pic: William Durr and Rev Lynn Bowman Mote baptizing me. I will cherish this picture forever. William was one of the ones who encouraged me to be silly, and not take things so seriously.
A woman recalled how Durr had gone out of his way to talk to her young daughter.
“This is so sad me and my daughter were in the 84 cheveron the other night ….well William Durr happened to be in there getting coffee he went out of his way to talk to my little girl and he even gave her the bracelet off of his wrist that said back the blue she will forever remember that good cop as she called him !!!,” she recalled. “We had never met him before until that night and I myself will forever remember him for being so sweet to my little girl Rest In Peace.”
A relative shared the above photo of Durr and wrote, “Our HERO, our nephew William Durr!!! Our prayers go out to all the families that have been devastated and heart broken by the senseless deaths of all our loved ones!!! Together we will keep each other strong!!!”
4. Godbolt Confessed on Video to Killing Durr & Others at the Scene
A reporter for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, Apel, managed to briefly interview Godbolt at the scene, and she asked him about the death of the sheriff’s deputy.
“My pain wasn’t designed for him,” Godbolt says on the video. “He was just there. We was talking about me taking my children, and auntie called the police. I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy, and her momma, and her, my wife, about me taking my children home, and someone called… People who didn’t even live at the house. That’s what they do. They intervene. They cost him his life, I’m sorry.”
In another video, he also shouted about loving his wife.
“Suicide by cop was my intention. I ain’t fit to live. Not after what I’ve done,” he allegedly also said to The Clarion-Ledger reporter.
The reporter asked what was next for him.
“Death. Death. My intention was to have ya’ll kill me. I ran out of bullets.”
5. Durr Was a Husband & Father Whose Service Was Praised by Mississippi’s Governor
Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi, released a statement praying for those who were lost. He mentioned the sacrifice of the deputy sheriff.
“I ask all Mississippians to join Deborah and me in praying for those lost in Lincoln County,” he said on Facebook. “Every day, the men and women who wear the badge make some measure of sacrifice to protect and serve their communities. Too often, we lose one of our finest. I thank the law enforcement agencies involved for their hard work. May the peace of the Almighty wash over those hurting after this senseless tragedy.”
A relative shared this photo on Facebook:
A family friend wrote on Facebook, “He was a brave and wonderful officer of the law, who lost his life in the line of duty from Brookhaven. Great father, husband, son and friend of my family.”
On Facebook, Durr’s cover photo was the above picture of a coffee cup with a father and son drawn on it. “Best buddies,” it read.