Grandmother, neighbors recovering after siege

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Hours after the pepper spray cleared and Dax Justin May was hauled off to jail, a relative and neighbors were left wondering what might have gone wrong.

His grandmother, June Trovillion, said May was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year ago and, at one point, was given just four or five days to live.

May allegedly fired weapons at least seven times during a 7-1/2 hour siege, which began when officers arrived at the Pinewood Mobile Home Park, 1400 S. West End Boulevard, about 9:30 p.m. Monday. That included a shotgun blast fired from the trailer when officer Randy Zimmerman initially approached to investigate a reported burglary.

May, 20, was visiting Trovillion and other relatives from his home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where his parents live. He was going to have surgery soon, but he wanted to wait until he turned 21, she said.

Trovillion said she did not know if the tumor was the reason May broke into a trailer and wildly fired a shotgun and a high-powered rifle as police evacuated nearby families from their homes.

But Trovillion said May, who ripped apart the inside of Mitch McElroy's trailer, did not remember what had taken place after he was arrested and placed in jail Tuesday morning.

"He had no idea what he did till this morning when he found out," Trovillion said through tears at her mobile home, which sits diagonally across the street from the crime scene. "He doesn't even know what went on."

Trovillion said she didn't know if May had been taking his medication for his tumor or any other drugs.

Neighbors had noticed May's strange behavior.

Ronald and Tina Sturgeon, who live two houses from the crime scene, had seen the suspect a few times in the last week, and May had helped Ronald work on his truck. Tuesday, they found a hole in the side of their home and a bullet lodged in the back of their refrigerator.

Ronald said May did not seem violent, but he did have a nervousness about him.

"He was always pacing," Ronald said. "He was sometimes a little spacey."

The Sturgeons both said they witnessed May talking to himself.

Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said a diagnosis of a brain tumor could come into play during the trial process, but has no effect on the charges.

"There have been numerous cases where suspects claim that, because of a head injury, they ended up with a mental disease that made them incapable of knowing wrongness of conduct," he said. "But that's a matter for the jury to decide."

In addition to allegedly firing into the air and in the direction of police officers, May has been charged with property damage in the first degree. After the siege, plaster was found torn from the walls, mirrors were broken, an entertainment center was knocked over and a computer was wrecked.

The damage exceeded $750, making it a class D felony.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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