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Archive for Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gunman kills 9, then himself

March 11, 2009

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— A gunman killed at least nine people on a terrifying rampage across two Alabama counties Tuesday, burning down his mother’s home, killing members of his own family on their porch and shooting apparent strangers as he drove by, authorities said. He then fatally shot himself.

Police were investigating shootings in at least four different locations in three neighboring communities, all of which were believed to be the work of a single gunman named Michael McLendon. Investigators declined to comment on a motive for the shootings, in which at least four other people were injured, including a child.

The afternoon of bloodshed began when McLendon burned down the house in Kinston where he lived with his mother, Lisa McLendon, according to Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers. Officials located Lisa McLendon’s body inside the house, but they had not been able to get inside the still-burning house to determine a cause of death or whether she was a 10th victim of her son’s killing spree.

He then headed about 12 miles southeast to Samson, in Geneva County, where he shot and killed five people — four adults and a child — at a home. 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. He cleaned his family out.”

“We don’t know what triggered it,” Preachers added.

McLendon 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 McLendon 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 McLendon 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.

McLendon then went inside the plant and shot himself, according to the safety department’s statement.

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

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