At least 11 dead in Ala. shooting spree

March 11, 2009 8:53:33 AM PDT
At least 11 people were killed Tuesday afternoon in a shooting rampage in southern Alabama by a lone gunman, according to the FBI. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

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The suspect, identified identified early Wednesday morning as Michael McLendon of Kinston, Ala., took his own life after leaving a trail of bloodshed across two towns.

Jim Stromenger of the Samson, Ala., police department said the shootings occurred in at least four separate locations in two towns. No motive is known at this time, he said.

Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers told the AP that the suspect started his spree by burning down his mother's house, where officials found her body. Preachers confirmed that Lisa McLendon had been shot, along with the family dogs.

The shooter by late afternoon moved on to Samson where he went to a private home and killed at least five people -- four adults and a child.

Among the dead were the suspect's grandparents, aunt and uncle, confirmed Preachers.

McLendon went on to kill two more people in two separate houses,

"He was just driving down the street shooting at people sitting on their porches," State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb told Ala.'s Dothan Eagle newspaper. "A family was just sitting on the porch and they were shot."

Geneva County coroner Max Motley said he was called to the Big Little Store on West Main Street in Samson, where he found the body of a woman between the gas pump and the front door, the Eagle's web site reported. She was found face up with at least one fatal gunshot wound.

Samson contractor Greg McCullough said he was pumping gas at the station when the gunman opened fire, wounding him in the shoulder and arm with bullet fragments that struck his truck and the pump.

"I first thought it was somebody playing," he said, explaining that 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, according to the AP.

After he fired at a state trooper, police pursued the shooter to Reliable Metal Products, where he fired an estimated 30 rounds. One of the bullets hit the Geneva police chief, who was saved by his bullet proof vest, the Alabama safety department said in a statement.

The gunman then went into the plant and shot himself, the AP reported.

The gunman had worked at Reliable Metal, said state Rep. Warren Beck, a Republican whose district includes Geneva.

"My secretary heard gunfire everywhere," he said. "This is one of the most tragic events ever in Geneva County."

State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb told the AP 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."

Reliable Metal Products makes grills and vents for heating and AC systems, mainly for hotels. A call to a person who answered the phone at the plant said no one could talk about the shooting, according to the AP.

The towns of Geneva and Samson are roughly 30 miles south of Fort Rucker, near the Florida border in southeast Alabama. Geneva's population is about 4,400 and Samson, 2,000.

Geneva County deputies rammed the suspect's Mitsubishi Eclipse in front of Alabama Title Loans on Highway 52, near Wal-Mart, according to the Eagle.

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