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Mississippi police catch fugitive Pruitt

Mississippi police officers have arrested David Pruitt, the Scottown man convicted last month of illegally selling fireworks near the store where nine people died in a 1996 explosion.

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Mississippi police officers have arrested David Pruitt, the Scottown man convicted last month of illegally selling fireworks near the store where nine people died in a 1996 explosion.

"He was picked up in Biloxi, Miss., Oct. 7 and is being held there for extradition," fire marshal Bob Lawless said this morning.

Biloxi authorities will contact the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department when Pruitt is ready to be brought back to jail here, Lawless said.

The sheriff’s department filed escape charges against Pruitt when he failed to show at the Lawrence County Jail on Oct. 2 for the first day of his five-month stay.

Pruitt and his daughter, Vickki Bailey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of illegally selling fireworks near their Ohio River Fireworks store in Scottown.

Lawrence County Municipal Court Judge Donald Capper sentenced Pruitt to six months in jail, with one month suspended, and a $500 fine, according to court records. Ms. Bailey was sentenced to six months in jail, with four months suspended, and a $200 fine. Ms. Bailey is serving her jail term.

The sheriff’s department secured an arrest warrant for Pruitt’s failure to appear.

But, under new state laws, not showing up at jail when you have to serve time nets a felony escape charge and another warrant was sought.

Lawless, deputies and other agencies began a countywide search for Pruitt and issued bulletins across the country.

Biloxi police likely stopped Pruitt for some other reason, conducted a background check and found he had outstanding warrants, Lawless said.

"When they came up with the warrants, they contacted our sheriff’s office and put a holder on him," he said.

Lawless said authorities don’t know why Pruitt was in Mississippi.

Although Lawless’s office will not be involved with the escape warrant, officials are thankful the police found him, he said.

Lawless and investigators from the sheriff’s department arrested Pruitt and Ms. Bailey over the July 1 weekend.

They were selling commercial fireworks from a pull-behind camper/trailer without a license. The vehicle was parked within several hundred yards of his 1996 business.