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Shooter Targets Family, Strangers In Deadly Rampage

SAMSON, Ala. (AP) - 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 bullet proof vest.
The gunman then went inside the plant and shot himself,
according to the safety department's statement.
Reliable Metal Products makes grills and vents for heating and
AC systems, mainly for hotels. A person who answered the phone at
the plant said no one could talk about the shooting.
State Rep. Warren Beck, a Republican whose district includes
Geneva, said the gunman had worked at Reliable Metal.
"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, said 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."
Smith and Beck were at the Statehouse when state troopers came
to get them and took them to Geneva County. Smith said the
governor's office is sending resources and state troopers are
setting up a command post.
The towns of Geneva and Samson are near the Florida border in
southeast Alabama. Geneva's population is about 4,400 and Samson,
2,000.
In the center of Samson, authorities in sheriff's cars and
trucks with blue lights flashing blocked off part of East Main
Street, where some of the shooting occurred.
At Bradley True Value Hardware, yellow tape was strung across
the front of the store where at least five bullet holes punctured
the glass windows to the store, with its wheelbarrows and
Adirondack lawn chairs on display. An orange-and-black sign to the
store reading "Closed" lay on the ground outside the store atop
the glass shards.
David Bradley, 51, the owner of the hardware store, said he was
inside behind the counter when the shooter opened fire outside his
store. At the time, there were five customers inside, plus
Bradley's 27-year-old son, Justin.
"No one was injured inside the store," David Bradley said,
adding he didn't even get a glimpse at the suspect. "It happened
so quick."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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