Slaying of popular young Mississippi teacher shocks community, leaves void

The killing of Frederick McCray Jr., a teacher in Natchez, Miss., while giving two suspects a ride to a location in northeast Louisiana has left his community in saddened disarray

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A beloved, award-winning Mississippi teacher was gunned down, leaving his family searching for answers and grappling with the senseless shooting.

On Sunday, Frederick McCray Jr., 27, was reported missing, and by Monday, his body was recovered across the state line in northeastern Louisiana, according to an alert from the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office.

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Two suspects, Jimmy O’Neal Lewis and Cedrick Tennessee, have since been arrested and charged with first degree murder after reportedly confessing to the crime, Newsweek reports.

Police said that McCray gave the suspects a ride in his car to to a location in nearby Ferriday, La., where they shot him and then tried to dispose of the body under garbage at a dog food plant, Monroe, La., station KNOE-TV reports.

The outlet reports that the men allegedly admitted they killed McCray.

McCray was a respected teacher at Technology Foundations school and also served as Assistant Test Coordinator. According to a statement released by the Natchez Adams School District, he previously was voted Teacher of the Year when he first worked at Morgantown Middle School in Mississippi.

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“In his first year of teaching at Morgantown, Mr. McCray was named the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year,” an online tribute read. “Mr. McCray’s zeal for education, infectious smile, gentle personality, fashion sense, and love for children will be missed by all of us at Natchez-Adams School District. Our sincere condolences are offered to his family, friends, and coworkers.”

“He was an amazing teacher,” Zandra McDonald, the district’s deputy superintendent, told The Natchez Democrat. “He had a commanding presence in his classroom and established a solid relationship with his students and with colleagues.”

Online, the Concordia Parish police chief David Hedrick also paid homage to the adored educator. “The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our deepest condolences to the the family of Mr. Fred McCray, Jr.,” he said in a Facebook statement. “This has truly been a sad day for Concordia Parish. Fred McCray, Jr. will be deeply missed. Please keep all of Mr. McCray’s family and friends in your prayers.”