Entries in Tuscaloosa (6)


Tuscaloosa Shooter Who Injured 17 Turns Self In

Tuscaloosa Police Department(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- A man who injured 17 people at a Tuscaloosa bar with a military style assault weapon turned himself in at a FedEx store and peacefully surrendered to police.

"He walked in and he made eye contact and he said, 'Yep that's me. I'm the one that shot the people in Tuscaloosa by the university,'" said Ken, the employee at the FedEx store in Jasper who approached who he thought was a customer and asked if he needed help.

Ken, who was only identified by his first name in an interview with ABC News' Alabama affiliate WBMA, said he "tried to keep the gentleman calm" while he called police.

The suspect, who has not been named, surrendered without incident, according to the station.

His name has not yet been released, as he has not been charged with a crime.

The shooting broke out at 12:30 a.m. today at the Copper Top bar, a crowded hangout popular for college students.

A man armed with a military style assault weapon fired through the window of the bar early today and then shot at patrons as they rushed outside to escape the gunfire.

Police said 17 people were injured, but remarkably, no one was killed.

"We believe that it was not a random act. There were people on the sidewalk where he stood for several minutes before firing," Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a news conference today.

"We believe from what we've seen in the video that there was a target inside the bar," the police chief said.

One on the wounded individuals is in very critical condition, while three are in critical condition, Anderson said.

Anderson said the gunman walked up a hill on 23rd Street to the bar, fired through the bar window and then shot at people as they fled the bar. After the shooting, the suspect walked back down the hill.

Surveillance footage of the exterior of the bar shows a man walking away with what appears to be a gun in his hand. Police are now working with federal officials to have the video of the gunman enhanced.

Authorities are investigating whether the shooting at the Copper Top Bar is related to a separate shooting at the Indian Lakes Subdivision in Northport, Ala., about 45 minutes earlier.

"Right now we are exploring that possibility," Anderson said. "We have not made a solid connection to that shooting."

That incident, which occurred at 11:47 p.m. involved two people who were attacked by a shooter in their home. One person was wounded in that shooting. Those inside the bar at the time of the incident told ABC 33/40 that it sounded like fireworks were going off, while a man who was shot said he quickly realized it was someone on the outside firing into the bar.

The 17 victims were being treated at DCH Regional Medical Center, hospital spokesman Brad Fisher said. Four have been admitted to the hospital.

After the shooting, police canvassed the area on foot and had a helicopter aloft to see if there was anyone wounded who had been missed. Investigators also collected shell casings for forensic analysis, Anderson said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Month Later, Alabama Tornado Recovery Slow

ABC News(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- More than a month after devastating tornadoes hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killing more than 300 people, little rebuilding has been done and several survivors are still living in shelters.

In fact, five people are still reported missing weeks after a tornado cut a six-mile-wide hole in the heart of Tuscaloosa.

While most residents said that the federal government appeared quickly and came to the rescue, they said the government is starting to move more slowly these days.

"America should definitely not forget about us," Tuscaloosa resident Naomi Wilson told ABC News.  "These people in this area are going to be needing help for so long."

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox, who has not taken a day off since the tragic storm, told ABC News that rebuilding can't begin while debris is still being moved off roads.

"You just can't change this overnight," he said.  "Even though the damage that was sustained to Tuscaloosa took six minutes, it's probably going to take us six years to fully recover."

Nearly 7,000 homes were destroyed when the tornado hit on April 27, but many people are still homeless.  Close to 100 residents are still staying in the last open shelter, which will be closed next week.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Church Services Held, Burials Begin in Aftermath of Southern Storms

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- An open-air church service took place in the town of Phil Campbell in Alabama on Sunday, as residents there and in other areas hit by deadly tornadoes the previous week, continue to pick up the pieces in the wake of the storms' destruction.

In Phil Campbell, where 26 residents were killed, Pastor Chris Burns told those who had gathered for the service in the spot where their church once stood, that the small town would recover from the tragedy.

“Last Sunday was Easter, and we celebrated on the first day of the week a resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and today, we celebrate a resurrection of Phil Campbell, Alabama,” said Burns.

Elsewhere in Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, where 36 people died, there were armies of church members reportedly moving about communities collecting relief supplies and then distributing those supplies to people in need. Officials in Alabama say approximately 1,700 people were injured by the storms in the state, and at least 248 people were killed.

In Smithville, Mississippi on Sunday, residents began the process of burying those who were killed by the violent weather. A pastor in the tiny town told ABC News that he has already buried one of his neighbors, a woman who was pulled from the rubble of her home alive, but later died. Smithville has a population of about 800, with the storm claiming the lives of about a dozen of the town’s residents. At least 34 people were reportedly killed by the storms in Mississippi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Death Toll Continues to Climb from Southern Storms

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- The death toll of the southern storms continued to rise Saturday, making it one of the deadliest twister outbreaks in U.S. history.

Alabama was the hardest hit of the seven states. Approximately 1,700 people were injured by the storms in the state, according to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. The official state death toll has reached 248, according to Alabama emergency officials.

The National Weather Service categorized Wednesday afternoon's tornado in Smithville, Miss., as an EF-5, reserved for only the fiercest and most devastating of tornadoes.

Since Wednesday, storms have ravaged communities across Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee. In addition to those killed in Alabama, 34 people died in Mississippi, 34 in Tennessee, 15 in Georgia, five in Virginia, two in Louisiana and one in Kentucky.

The storms have destroyed or damaged power plants, power lines, gas stations and water supplies, leaving more than one million people without electricity. Thousands are homeless or without fuel or safe drinking water. Three nuclear power plants have shut down and are offline.

President Obama and the first lady toured the disaster area Friday in hard-hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., where 36 people died.

Across the country, Americans have been donating to the relief effort, through text-message donations to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, among other charities. The New York Yankees have donated $500,000 to relief efforts

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obamas Survey Alabama Storm Damage, Offer Condolences to Victims

Pool Photo(TUSCALOOSA, Al.) -- President Obama and the first lady surveyed storm damage and met with families of victims Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., one of the cities hardest hit by this week's outbreak of tornadoes that have left more than 300 people dead across seven states.

Obama said he's "never seen devastation like this. It is heartbreaking."

In Alabama alone, at least 210 people were killed. Mississippi reported 32 fatalities, Tennessee had 34, Georgia at least 15, Virginia had five and Arkansas 13, authorities said. The count, which is already the greatest death toll from a tornado outbreak since 1974, is expected to rise.

The twisters leveled cities, leaving thousands homeless and more than 1 million people without power. The outages forced two nuclear plants offline and idled production lines at major plants for automakers Toyota and Mercedes and aerospace manufacturers Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

"In a matter of hours, these deadly tornadoes ... took mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, even entire communities," Obama said at the White House Thursday. "We can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it."

The president declared Alabama a major disaster area, clearing the way for federal aid to help families who lost homes or businesses and local governments that sustained damage to public property.

Individual tornadoes usually do not stay on the ground for a very long time. But the National Severe Storms Laboratory says the area may have been hit by a rare single, long-ranging twister that formed in Mississippi and travelled 300 miles to batter Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, southwestern Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Kentucky.

If that is true, the twister would be one of the longest-lasting on record, rivaling a 1925 tornado that raged for 219 miles. Early estimates show the tornado was at least an EF4 as it blew through Tuscaloosa. Five other EF4 tornadoes struck across the region, according to the National Weather Service, including one with estimated winds of 175 mph that occurred in Catoosa County, Georgia, flattening the town of Ringgold and killing at least eight.

Official storm damage assessments indicate the strongest tornado, likely an EF5 with winds of 205 miles per hour, hit Smithville, Miss., Wednesday, leaving a three-mile-long path of destruction that left at least 14 dead and 40 injured.

In total, there were 211 reported tornadoes across 14 states between Wednesday and Thursday mornings, according to NOAA -- a new record for one storm system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Deadly Tornadoes Claim Hundreds of Lives Across South

Alex Stone/ABC News(RAINSVILLE, Al.) -- The death toll has now risen to at least 292 from the tornadoes and thunderstorms that tore through the South Wednesday night and early Thursday. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, estimated there were 164 tornadoes Wednesday, a new record for a single storm system in modern times.

The twisters rampaged through cities like Tuscaloosa, Alabama, forced a pair of nuclear plants to go off line, left thousands homeless and more than a million people without power.

President Obama called the loss of life "heartbreaking," and promised those affected by the storms the full support of the federal government.

So far 164 tornadoes have been reported from Mississippi to New York, the worst tornado outbreak since 1974 when a super tornado outbreak killed more than 300 people. The deadliest tornado outbreak was on March 18, 1925 when 695 people died in the storms.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal toured the tornado area this morning and said, "It's hard to imagine nature can be this devastating." The governor said it was a remarkably wide swath of twisters and noted there were multiple tornadoes in some areas.

The majority of the deaths reported so far have been in Alabama, where at least 195 people were killed. Mississippi recorded 32 fatalities, Tennessee had 33, Georgia at least 10, and Virginia had eight.

Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said the area can expect mild weather for the next few days but he could not predict whether more killer tornadoes were on their way.

President Obama called Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to express condolences over the deaths in his state and the White House announced that the president will stop in Alabama Friday to tour the wreckage while on his way to Cape Canaveral for the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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