26/06/2022

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MS Coast residents remember victims of quadruple murders

MS Coast residents remember victims of quadruple murders

St. Patrick Catholic High School offered prayers for the family of slain motel owner, Mohammad “Mo” Moeini, and family after a man shot and killed him and three others in a shooting spree Wednesday.

St. Patrick Catholic High School

Brittany Lehman had just left her mom and their mixed-breed puppy named Sadie in their room at the Broadwater Inn Express in Biloxi about half an hour before a gunman opened fire there, killing Lehman’s mom, the motel owner and a maintenance man who worked there.

Brittany lived at the beachfront motel with her mother, Laura Lehman, a property manager at the motel for the last 13 or 14 years who had previously worked for years at the Jiffy Jak restaurant in Biloxi.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, Brittany got a message from a friend asking if she was OK. The friend told her about the shooting at the Biloxi beachfront motel.

“I tried to call my mom and nobody answered,” she said. She called the motel’s owner’s phone and the maintenance man, and still, there was no answer.

Brittany raced back to the motel and soon learned alleged gunman Jeremy Alexsunder Reynolds, 32, had shot and killed her mother, beloved motel owner, Mohammad “Mo” Moeini, 51, and the motel’s maintenance man, Chad Green, 55.

“It was hard to process what was going on” at the scene,” she said. “My mother was dead. She was my best friend. She was a single mother, and she did everything she could to make sure we were happy and cared for.”

A son also survives Laura Lehman.

Laura Lehman and daughter, Brittany Lehma_fitted.jpeg
Laura Lehman, left, died Wednesday after a gunman shot and killed her and two others at the Broadway Inn Express motel in Biloxi, where Lehman worked as a property manager. She is pictured here with her daughter, Brittany Lehman. Courtesy Brittany Lehman Courtesy Brittany Lehman

Her daughter said she last spoke to her mom that morning about another shooting around the motel the night before. She said she was telling her mom that it seemed like many “nefarious people” hung around that area and felt like authorities needed to do more to ensure safety there.

Brittany never thought that would be her last conversation with her mom.

Since the killings, Brittany said she’s still trying to come to terms with what’s happened.

“I just keep thinking I’m about to go back home to the hotel,” she said. Brittany left the hotel and moved in with someone else afterward.

Autopsy results released

After the triple murder in Biloxi, Reynolds fled to Gulfport in a stolen Mercedes, where he fatally shot William Waltman, a Diamondhead resident and contract employee in Gulfport, during a carjacking.

Not long after, Reynolds assaulted an employee at Brother’s Food Mart at Canal Road and 28th Street, before that employee and a second one managed to get away and run out of the store to safety.

Before he got to the store, Reynolds had ditched the semi-automatic rifle he had been using. Authorities later recovered the weapon.

A short time after the store employees got out of the store, authorities found Reynolds dead in a store office he had locked himself in before setting a mattress inside the office on fire.

On Friday, Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer said that autopsies showed all four gunshot victims died of multiple gunshot wounds. Reynolds, he said, died of smoke inhalation.

Since the killings, family and friends of the deceased have tried to find comfort by sharing fond memories of their loved ones.

A gift amid tragedy

For Brittany Lehman, comfort amid the unspeakable grief came for her after she went on Facebook and posted pictures in lost and found groups to find her mom’s dog, Sadie.

The mixed-breed pup Brittany had adopted for her mom ran off when the shooting started. Because Sadie had just had a bath, she didn’t have a collar on.

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Sadie, a mixed-breed puppy that belonged to Broadway Inn Express motel property manager, Laura Lehman, ran off when a gunman opened fire Wednesday, killing Laura Lehman. Her daughter, Brittany Lehman, used social media to ask for help finding Sadie and her wish came true when Sadie was found this week. Courtesy Brittany Lehman Courtesy Brittany Lehman

“We didn’t know at first if something had happened to her or if someone had taken her,” Brittany said.

Police reviewed video footage and saw Sadie racing through the motel parking lot before disappearing.

Soon after making the pleas on social media, Brittany said, someone with the aid of animal control officers found Sadie around Royal Gulf apartments in Biloxi, where Brittany and her mom often walked Sadie. A Biloxi animal control officer reunited Sadie with Brittany on Thursday.

“I’m so happy we found her,” Brittany said. “She’s back. She’s safe. She’s a little skittish, but I think the dog is in shock, and these moves are traumatizing for her. But she’s OK.”

A beloved father and friend

Like others affected by Wednesday’s mass shooting, an outpouring of prayers and support for the victims has come from family, friends and area churches.

Those who knew and loved motel owner Moeini described him as a devoted father and family man and a hardworking businessman.

Moeini has owned various properties on the Coast over the years and forged close-knit relationships all over the area.

Since his death, his family at St. Patrick Catholic High School, and the Catholic diocese, where the family had been active, have also offered support.

One of Moeini’s children attends St. Patrick Catholic High School.

Shortly after news of Moeini’s death spread, St. Patrick High School added a post on Twitter asking others to “join us in praying for the Moeini Family after the tragic loss of Mohammad Moeini, father of Shayleen Moeini, 25.”

“May we all join together in offering our support and comfort during this difficult time,” the post continued. “We extend much love and many prayers to this precious family!”

Others who knew and loved the man they called Mo called his death tragic for all those who knew and loved him.

Scott Weinberg is among those saddened by his loss.

For years, Weinberg and friends played poker tournaments with Moeini, mainly at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

“He was just one of those guys who always had a smile on his face,” he said. “You just knew he was a good person.”

Mo, he said, was also hard to read when it came to figuring out when he had a good hand.

But win or lose, Weinberg said, Mo always had a smile because “he knew it was a game.”

Sean Logan, who works in real estate, considered him a good friend and described him as “well-spoken, clean-cut” and “just a good guy with a big heart who wanted to help people.”

Among those who Moeini helped were people he often let live in the motel and do odd jobs for him to make money.

“He was always trying to help those who needed it,” Logan said. “I just don’t understand how someone would do this to a person. It’s terrible.”

Despite the loss, the victims’ families also wants others to remember people who are likely hurting right now.

“As hard as it is to say, I feel for his (the shooter’s) family, too,” Brittany Lehman said. “I”m sure they are grieving the same as the other four families are.”

Brothers Food Mar_fitted.jpeg
Jeremy Reynolds had killed three people at a Biloxi motel before he shot and killed another man in a carjacking in Gulfport and later died after he barricaded himself in an office at Brothers Mart on Canal Road at 28th Street in Gulfport. Reynolds died of smoke inhalation after he set fire to mattress inside the office he had locked himself in. Margaret Baker [email protected]

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The scene at the Broadway Inn Express hotel.

This story was originally published April 30, 2022 9:41 AM.

Profile Image of Margaret Baker

Margaret Baker is an investigative reporter whose search for truth exposed corrupt sheriffs, a police chief and various jailers and led to the first prosecution of a federal hate crime for the murder of a transgendered person. She worked on the Sun Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Hurricane Katrina team. When she pursues a big story, she is relentless.