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Samson deputy recalls support of locals in wake of shootings

A Geneva County man who lost two family members last year in what is perhaps Alabama’s most violent crime ever said yesterday the support he and others received from Covington County made a difference in his life.

Deputy Josh Myers of the Geneva County Sheriff’s Department lost his wife and infant daughter when a gunman, identified by authorities as Michael McLendon, killed his mother in their Kinston home, set it afire and drove into Samson on a shooting spree that left nine others dead and six wounded. McLendon, 28, later killed himself after driving through Geneva.

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the violence.

When news of the events reached Covington County, residents pulled out all the stops with what started as a three-hour event with a goal of $10,000 at local radio station WAAO and ended 12 hours later, raising $27,845. Generosity continued to pour in, when days later the drive was halted. The grand total – nearly $55,000 – was distributed among the victim’s families.

“It meant more than what people realized,” Myers said Thursday. “When that money was raised, we were broke. I mean as poor as can be, getting food stamps that kind of broke. I didn’t know how we were going to pay for a funeral or any of those other life expenses.

“Covington County did a lot for me and for the rest of the families,” he said. “I know I speak for them, too, when I say I’ll forever be grateful.”

Myers said for him, daughter, 15-month-old Ella Kay, and son, 5-year-old Isaak, the year since the death of Andrea and Corrine Myers has seen both trial and triumph.

“I guess you can say that things are pretty good – as good as can be, really,” he said. “My parents raised me to have a strong heart and a strong head, and both I can tell you have really been put to the test. My days are filled with raising kids or working.

“I have the utmost respect for mothers,” he said. “I never realized all that they do. I can say that if I didn’t have my kids, I don’t know what I would do.

“That day, when things were going crazy, and I knew that my wife and daughter were gone – well most people I think would have crumbled and freaked,” he said. “I guess I did a little, but when you become law enforcement – it’s more than just a job. It’s everything in your life. It’s what you do for everyone else.

“When something like this happens, to see the community turn around and do for you, it’s humbling,” he said. “You were there for me; my family was and is there for me. The support was overwhelming. I got letters for months by the hundreds, saying they were praying for me.

“It’s comforting,” he said. “It helped me out – still does.”