Killing spree leaves 11 dead
Published 12:05 am Wednesday, March 11, 2009
SAMSON (AP) — A gunman on a terrifying rampage across two southern Alabama counties killed at least 10 people Tuesday, including members of his own family and apparent strangers, and burned down his mother’s home before shooting himself at a metals plant, authorities said.
Police were investigating shootings in at least four different locations in several communities, all of which were believed to be the work of a single gunman who had not yet been identified by investigators. The Covington County DTF was among those law enforcement agencies assisting in the initial investigations.
The afternoon of bloodshed began in Kinston, where the shooter burned down his mother’s house, according to the Coffee County coroner, Robert Preachers. Officials located the woman’s body inside the house, but they had not been able to get inside the still-burning house to determine if he shot her first.
The gunman then headed east, into Geneva County, where he shot and killed five people — four adults and a child — at a home in the nearby town of Samson. Then he killed one person each in two other homes. The identities of all the victims were unknown, but Preachers said they included other members of the shooter’s family.
“He started in his mother’s house,” Preachers said. “Then he went to Samson and he killed his granny and granddaddy and aunt and uncle.”
“We don’t know what triggered it,” Preachers added.
The gunman also shot at a state trooper’s car, striking the vehicle seven times and wounding the trooper with broken glass.
He then killed someone at a Samson supply store, and another person at a service station.
Samson contractor Greg McCullough said he was pumping gas at the station when the gunman opened fire, killing a woman coming out of the service station and wounding McCullough in the shoulder and arm with bullet fragments that struck his truck and the pump.
“I first thought it was somebody playing,” he said. He said the gunman roared into the parking lot and slammed on his brakes. Then he saw the rifle.
He said the gunman fired and the rifle appeared to jam, then he “went back to firing.” Then he drove off.
McCullough, a father of two, said he tried to help the woman who was shot and yelled for someone to call an ambulance.
“I’m just in awe that something like this could take place. That someone could do such a thing. It’s just shocking,” McCullough told The Associated Press.
Police pursued the gunman to Reliable Metal Products just north of Geneva, about a dozen miles southeast of Samson, where he fired an estimated 30 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon, the Alabama safety department said. One of the bullets hit Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey, who was saved by his bulletproof vest.
The gunman then went inside the plant and shot himself, according to the safety department’s statement.
Reliable Metal Products makes grills and vents for heating and AC systems, mainly for hotels. A person who answered the phone at the plant said no one could talk about the shooting.
State Rep. Warren Beck, whose district includes Geneva, said the gunman had worked at Reliable Metal.
State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb, said some of those killed in Samson were sitting outside.
“He was just driving down the street shooting at people sitting on their porches,” she said. “A family was just sitting on the porch and they were shot.”
Smith and Beck were at the Statehouse when state troopers came to get them and took them to Geneva County. Smith said the governor’s office is sending resources and state troopers are setting up a command post.