Homeless Natchez man admits to breaking courthouse windows to get arrested and out of the cold

Updated: Dec. 19, 2019 at 8:14 PM CST
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NATCHEZ, Miss. (WLBT) - Most people aren't trying to spend anytime in jail, but for one Natchez man, it's exactly where he wanted to be Thursday morning.

When temperatures hovered around freezing, the homeless man turned to crime to get off the streets.

The weather was frigid in Natchez when Clamekus DeNorris Johnson went to the Adams county sheriff’s Department where he asked staff if he could stay.

It’s not permitted because of liability.

But Johnson wasn’t taking no for an answer and made sure he was going to be behind bars and not on the cold city streets.

“He walked out of the jail behind me here. He walked over to the courthouse and he took his elbow, and he elbowed out several of the windows that you see broken over there now,” said Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten. “He walked back into the lobby and picked up a plant. Threw it on the floor and the table that it was sitting on, he used that table to smash out both windows that you see behind me here.”

The 43-year-old was taken into custody by deputies and Natchez Police.

Sheriff Patten sympathizes with Johnson’s plight, but doesn’t condone his behavior.

The sheriff said Johnson doesn’t have mental issues and was taken into custody without incident.

It was all an effort to stay warm and get a meal.

Some in Natchez find the situation sad and disturbing.

“It’s extremely shocking to know that he had to use his elbow to bust windows and then throw a table through the window,” said Amber Ables who works in Natchez. “That’s insane, but I understand, this cold weather is also insane.”

Natchez resident LaShonda Butler said it's sad there is no place for the homeless in the county.

“I really just felt sorry for the man. I wish we did have more to offer,” said Butler. “Maybe the city will get some kind of grants or something, some kind of funding to where you know we could help the homeless.”

There is no homeless shelter in the county although Stewpot feeds daily.

The county sometimes opens its safe room when temperatures drop.

“This time it was the sheriff’s office, and the county courthouse getting torn up,” said Sheriff Patten. “The next time it could be your home. Now am I condoning him tearing up county property, absolutely not. But when you put people in desperate situations, during desperate times they do desperate things.”

Johnson is now out of the cold but behind bars without bond.

The damages totaled more than $1,000 resulting in felony charges.

He is charged with destroying government property.

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