Man shoots at FPD officer

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Florala man has been charged with the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer following a weekend incident in which he is accused of shooting at a police officer while fleeing a traffic stop.

Michael “Red” Thames, 34, was jailed Monday on charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and shooting into an occupied vehicle after he allegedly led a Florala police officer on a two-state, high-speed pursuit Saturday.

Florala Chief Sonny Bedsole said officer John Davis attempted to pull Thames over for a minor traffic infraction before the pursuit began.

“It was about 8:45 p.m. Saturday and Officer Davis went to make a traffic stop on a Chevrolet Z71 because the driver was spinning the tires on the vehicle,” Bedsole said. “That was when the pursuit ensued and it was a high speed chase that led out of Florala on Still Pond Road. It was then Officer Davis called out a shot had been fired at the patrol car.”

Bedsole said the pursuit continued out County Road 4, or the Wing Highway, and over into Florida near Laurel Hill. Davis terminated the pursuit once he lost sight of the vehicle, Bedsole said.

“Once the pursuit ended, the car was examined and the mark on the windshield indicated it had been struck by an object,” Bedsole said.

Sunday, the car was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Montgomery where tests indicated lead fragments were embedded in the windshield, he said. On the same morning, Thames turned himself in to the Florala Police Department and was issued a host of traffic citations.

By Monday, a warrant was obtained for Thames’ arrest based on the information received from the ADFS, Bedsole said.

“There was a statement made by Thames where he apologized to Officer Davis (for fleeing) because he thought that (Davis) was a trooper,” Bedsole said. “He said he had to pay several hundred dollars in fines and openly admitted he was fleeing from the officer. Additionally, he admitted he’d had a six pack of beer, but at this time, we don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the incident.”

Bedsole said a meeting was scheduled between himself, agents with the 22nd Circuit Drug Task Force and Thames, at which Thames was taken into custody.

Currently, he is being held in the Covington County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

“(The Florala Police Department is) going to handle things professionally and with respect, but public safety is our primary mission,” Bedsole said. “It is of paramount importance to us in Florala, and we will not tolerate anyone firing a weapon at a police officer or any of our citizens.”

The case is still under investigation by the FPD, DTF, ADFS and the Andalusia Police Department.