December 16, 2012 in Nation/World

Ala. police kill suspects after separate shootings

Associated Press
 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Police in Alabama say a SWAT team shot dead a man wielding an assault rifle following a chase touched off by a triple killing, hours after a separate weekend shooting at a hospital in the state.

Saturday’s shootings continued a violent several days in Alabama.

East of Birmingham, police said the man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle was shot at the end of a pursuit following a triple killing in Cleburne County, near the Georgia state line, authorities said. Residents of a mobile home park reported hearing gunshots Saturday morning and alerted police, touching off the chase, Cleburne Sheriff’s office Investigator Michael Gore told The Anniston Star.

Investigator Dennis Green of the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office told the newspaper that the three gunshot victims in the triple killing were males but authorities did not immediately identify them further. Green also said a child under the age of 2 also was hurt and had been taken to a hospital in Georgia.

Authorities said officers pursued the suspect into the Alabama community of Oxford, where the man crashed a car near a busy interchange. Authorities said the suspect fired at police with the AK-47, wounding one police officer, who was reported in critical condition.

The suspect “exited the vehicle and started shooting at the officers,” Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said. “The officers returned fire.”

Authorities said the suspect then carjacked a vehicle at the intersection, though the occupants were able to escape. Police said they caught up with the suspect nearby as he crashed the car into another vehicle while being pursued by authorities.

Partridge said the suspect reached for the assault rifle as he exited the car. Two members of an Oxford police SWAT team fatally shot him about 12:40 p.m. Saturday, authorities said. Late Saturday, Oxford police identified the deceased suspect as 33-year-old Romero Roberto Moya of Heflin.

Hours earlier on Saturday, Jason Letts, 38, of Jemison opened fire before dawn at a hospital in Birmingham, wounding a police officer and two employees before being shot and killed by another officer, according to authorities.

Police were sent to St. Vincent’s Hospital around 4 a.m. to respond to a report of an armed man inside. Two officers who arrived separately converged on the suspect on the hospital’s fifth floor.

“When the officer encountered the suspect, there was immediate gunfire from the suspect,” Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams said. He said detectives were still trying to establish a motive.

A handful of cardiac patients and several staff members were on the fifth floor, hospital spokeswoman Liz Moore told reporters at a news conference later Saturday. She said patient care was not interrupted despite the events.

Alabama has been dealing with a rash of shootings of late.

In the Alabama community of Homewood, police continue to investigate Friday’s slayings of a 30-year-old woman and her two sons, ages 4 and 5, at the family’s apartment. Authorities said they received a call from a man returning to the apartment from work Friday who said he’d found his family dead. Police said the man was being held in “protective custody.”

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