Authorities in Tuscaloosa are piecing together what led to a shooting at a downtown bar that left seventeen people injured.
This is how the day ended.
“I’d like to report to the media and the public that we do have a suspect in custody at this time,” says Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson
This is how it started.
“At approximately 12:29 am, the Tuscaloosa Police Department started receiving 9-1-1 calls concerning an individual who was shooting at the Copper Top Bar.”
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson says it didn’t take long for officers to arrive at the Copper Top Bar near the University of Alabama campus. By then, the gunman had fled. Surveillance video would later show a white male carrying a military-style assault weapon. Chief Anderson says it appears the gunman was targeting someone.
“The reason we believe it was not a random act of violence was because when he first walked up, there were people up on the sidewalk, and he stood for several minutes watching and observing before ever firing a single shot,” says Anderson.
17 people were injured in the wake of the shooting. They either walked into the emergency room or arrivedby ambulance to DCH Regional Medical Center nearby as police continued to look for the suspect.
Doctor Deric Jones is Director of Emergency Medicine at DCH. His says his staff woke him out of a sound sleep with news of the shooting.
“I drove up and there was a sheriff’s deputy with full swat gear on standing at the ambulance bay with his rifle. And actually that reassured me quite a bit.”
Of the 17 people who were injured, one was initially listed in very critical condition. But Jones says most of the injuries were pretty minor.
“Most folks had superficial kind of injuries,” says Jones. “Scratches, scrapes, shrapnel that had kind of just kind of flung by them and gave them a little abrasion all the way to the next level up where folks who had shrapnel embedded into tissue. You know, into muscle tissue and things like that.”
Jones says as gunshot victims came into the hospital, the scene took him back to last year’s tornadoes, where DCH was flooded with victims of the storms.
“The feeling, you know we all just went right back to that place of ‘oh my goodness how bad is this going to be?’ and that’s really what we experienced throughout the tornado experience was ‘what’s coming in next? How bad is this going to be?”
The search for the gunman didn’t last long. About 12 hours after he opened fire at the bar, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson says the suspect just turned himself in.
“He went to a business in Jasper and told individuals at that business who he was and that he was sought here in connection to the shooting and they called the jasper police department.”
The arrest still left many answered questioned at the time.. Why was the suspect in Jasper? Is this incident related to another shooting just north of Tuscaloosa that happened a few hours earlier? And perhaps the biggest question-what was the gunman’s motive? Authorities say they hope to have answers as they continue to investigate the shooting.