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Bentonville murder suspect arrested in Mississippi

by Tracy Neal | April 29, 2021 at 5:11 p.m.
Police lights are shown in this file photo.

BENTONVILLE -- A man was arrested Thursday in Mississippi in connection with the killing of a Bentonville man Tuesday, according to a news release from the Bentonville Police Department.

Zachary Avans, 22, is in custody in Mississippi in connection with capital murder and aggravated residential burglary. The U.S. Marshals Service found Avans, and he will remain in Mississippi pending extradition to Arkansas, according to the release. It didn't say where in Mississippi he is being held.

His arrest is in connection with the shooting death of 30-year-old Bryon Keith Blackmon, according to the release.

Bentonville police received a call at 10:04 p.m. Tuesday concerning an injured man lying in the road in the 300 block of N.W. Fifth St. The caller said Blackmon had a gunshot wound to the upper torso, and initial reports indicated Avans fled the scene before Blackmon was discovered, according to the release.

Blackmon was taken to Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville where he died of his injuries.

Melanie Clatanoff heard yelling Tuesday night and moments later her husband found Blackmon -- one of their neighbors -- wounded in the street.

She and her husband were getting ready for bed when they heard the yelling, Clatanoff said. She said her husband went outside and she called 911.

Clatanoff said her husband tried to help Blackmon by putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding.

An Uber driver, who was passing by stopped and helped her husband render aid to Blackmon, Clatanoff said.

Blackmon asked Clatanoff to call his mother, Clatanoff said. She called, but had to leave a message that her injured son was being taken to the hospital.

Blackmon was holding her husband's hand and saying, "Please don't let me die, please don't let me die," she said.

Police quickly responded, and an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital, she said.

Blackmon told police, her husband and the Uber driver who shot him, Clatanoff said.

Clatanoff said they hoped Blackmon's injuries weren't fatal, but his mother called her about midnight to say her son had died.

Police searched the neighborhood for Avans, who had a shotgun, Clatanoff said.

Clatanoff said her husband spent Wednesday talking with police throughout the day.

"We knew him as a 'hi and bye' next-door neighbor," she said. "Bryon was a very friendly neighbor. Bryon was a great guy to live next door to."

Clatanoff said the street is normally a quiet one and the shooting was shocking to her and her husband.

"It's sad," she said. "It's just horrible and terribly sad. I hope they get this guy."

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