At least 10 people were killed and several others were wounded when a 27-year-old man went on a shooting spree in the US state of Alabama. The gunman killed several of his own relatives before fatally shooting himself, officials said.
AFP - A US gunman mowed down at least 10 people, including his grandparents and other relatives, in a deadly rampage in southern Alabama before turning the gun on himself, officials said Wednesday.
Michael McLendon, 27, left a trail of dead and wounded across two rural counties and three towns during Tuesday's shooting spree before killing himself after being cornered by police in a factory where he had worked.
Authorities said they were still trying to unravel the drama and McLendon's motives, but the carnage apparently began in the small town of Kinston, where McLendon set fire to his mother's house, leaving her dead.
McLendon then drove to the nearby town of Samson, where he shot his grandparents, an aunt and an uncle as they sat on the porch of their home, Samson mayor Clay King said.
He then killed the wife and baby daughter of local sheriff's deputy, Josh Myers, who lived across the street, gunned down as they were out on their front porch talking with neighbors.
Just minutes later Myers took part in the shootout with the killer, not knowing his wife, 31, and 18-month-old daughter had been slain.
"I have no idea who the gunman was ... I don't have any idea. I never heard of him. Never met him. Never seen him before in my life," Myers told reporters Wednesday, praising his wife as a "super mom."
"I cried so much yesterday, I don't have a tear left in me," he added, asking everyone to pray for his other daughter who will undergo surgery Wednesday to remove either a bullet or shrapnel from her leg.
"It still seems like I should be able to walk in the house and my wife should be there and my baby girl should be in there climbing on me. I'm never in my life going to be able to fully understand it."
The couple also have a son who survived unhurt.
Police said the shooter then moved on to other Samsom homes and killed at least one more person in his deadly rampage.
"It is believed the gunman left that location, traveling on Alabama route 52 where he shot at a state trooper's vehicle, striking the vehicle seven times and slightly wounding the trooper due to broken glass," said a statement released by the Alabama Public Safety Department.
The gunman stopped on the road at a local company, Samson Pipe and Supply, where he shot dead one person, then killed another victim at a service station. Media reports said both were random targets.
Sirens wailing, police cars chased the shooter to Reliable Metal Products, a local business just north of the town of Geneva that makes parts for heating and air condition units.
McLendon "fired an estimated 30-round burst," according to the statement. "One bullet grazed the Geneva police chief, who was saved from serious injury by his bullet-proof vest."
"The subject entered the business. Within minutes, shots were heard from within Reliable Metal, and law enforcement officers found him dead from what are believed to be self-inflicted gunshots."
Local media said McLendon had worked in the past at Reliable Metal, though it was unclear when or if he had been fired or laid off.
Local residents and officials were stunned and bewildered by the rampage.
"None of this makes any sense to me," King told AFP. "This is a tremendous loss for everybody in this town. These people were well known ... it's like getting hit in the gut unexpectedly."
"At this time, I don't think anybody has any idea of what the motive is," King later said on CNN television.
"You don't expect things like this to happen in your small home town," eyewitness Stephen Crews, a local reporter, told WSFA TV.
Much of downtown Samson, which has a population 2,000, was cordoned off overnight as police agencies investigated the shootings.
Samson resident Wayland Tharp worked with McLendon years ago at a local bakery. "He used to be a very quiet, very reserved individual ... he wasn't someone who caused trouble, he'd get the job done and had a good attitude," Tharp told AFP.
Police trooper Kevin Cook, a spokesman for Alabama state troopers, told reporters the gunman used a semi-automatic weapon, but gave no further details.
Alabama Bureau of Investigation officials told reporters they were conducting investigations at six crime scenes, including the home that was set ablaze.
Date created : 2009-03-11