March 11, 2009 in Nation/World

Gunman kills nine, himself in Alabama

Rampage started with burning of his mother’s house
Jessica Gresko Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Family members of victims of a shooting rampage comfort each other in Samson, Ala., on Tuesday. A coroner says the suspect burned down his mother’s house where officials found her body.
(Full-size photo)

SAMSON, Ala. – A gunman on a terrifying rampage across two southern Alabama counties killed at least nine 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 afternoon of bloodshed began in Kinston, near the Alabama-Florida border, 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 in a telephone interview.

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.

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