TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (CBS Atlanta/AP) — A gunman who fired into a crowded downtown bar near the University of Alabama campus and wounded nearly a dozen people was taken into custody Tuesday, police said.
Sgt. Brent Blakely would not release any details about how the man was apprehended, but said police planned a 1 p.m CDT news conference.
Earlier, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson described the shooting. He said the gunman stood outside of the bar for a few moments around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday and targeted someone inside before firing through a window. Customers at the Copper Top bar ran or crawled away, and the gunman opened fire again with a military-style assault weapon.
Police were looking into whether the bar rampage was connected to a shooting about 45 minutes earlier at a home just a couple of miles away. Two people who lived there were involved in that shooting, and one was wounded, Anderson said.
Police were not sure exactly what prompted the shootings.
Witnesses at the bar described a bloody and chaotic scene, with glass and debris flying around the nightclub.
Riley Dunn, a University of Alabama senior who was injured in the shooting, told the Tuscaloosa News that about 90 people were at the bar when gunfire erupted.
“We were all just shooting pool and hanging out,” Dunn told the paper. “It was kind of loud from the music, but we heard the gun shot and no one really knew what to think. The first gunshot took place, then about 20 seconds later then that’s when he really started firing them off. After that everyone really scattered.”
Rachel Studdard was sitting on a patio with a group of friends, enjoying 50-cent draft beer when the shooting started.
“We heard firecracker sounds. All of a sudden somebody was like, ‘Is that gunfire?’” said Studdard, who recently graduated a two-year college and plans to attend the university in the fall. “They shot in one area and then they started shooting directly where we were.”
A bullet hit Studdard’s toe, and debris hit her in the side and in the leg. Her foot throbbed Tuesday, she said, and she was using crutches to walk. She still had dried blood on her leg.
The shots fired so quickly it sounded like automatic gunfire, she said.
“There were sparks coming off the ground and then I felt a sting and I knew I’d been hit,” she said.
The police chief said 11 people were hit by gunfire and 17 people were taking to the hospital. Most of the injured were hit by bullet fragments or debris, said Brad Fisher, a spokesman at DCH Regional Medical Center.
Two people were in intensive care, one in critical condition and the other in serious condition, Fisher said. Three people were in fair condition and the others were treated and released.
At least three injured were university students.
Outside the bar Tuesday, pools of blood were still visible and a trail of bloody footprints could be seen on the sidewalk for about two blocks leading away from the nightclub.
Elizabeth Walters was inside the Copper Top when the shooting started.
“It sounded like it would never end,” Walters said. “There was a lull and then it started up again.”
After the shooting ended, the music in the bar continued to play for several minutes until someone turned it off.
The gunman walked away, down the same street he walked up to get to the bar, Anderson said.
It appeared he shot through the front double French doors and a side door. The front doors were covered by a black material and two windows were missing from the wooden frames.
Surveillance video showed him carrying a gun. After the shooting, the gunman walked back down the street, the same way he arrived, Anderson said.
At the home of the earlier shooting, yellow police tape surrounded the single-level, brown ranch-style house. The front window was broken out and three police cars were parked outside.
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