Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eyewitness Account of Tuscaloosa Shooting Scene

While not local, Tuscaloosa is still close enough to hit home to us in the Shoals. The following is an edited account from Ron Wisely, a forum poster, who arrived on the scene immediately after the shooting:

I was upstairs at Mellow Mushroom playing poker with some coworkers when it happened. We had the patio door open and heard what sounded like a gunshot. About 3 seconds later we heard 8 or 10 more shots. We went out to the patio to see what happened and saw people running away from Copper Top in the direction of Greensboro Ave. I saw several people lie down in front of the fountain in front of Copper Top and get up and run towards Wilhagen's when they got an opportunity. Being a Monday (I guess that's the reason) there were no police cruisers sitting at the intersection there like there usually is. It took several minutes for the first police officer to arrive. I decided to walk down there once it seemed the shooting was done, to try to move my car (parked right in front of Copper Top) before the ambulances and such showed up and blocked me in.

As I got to my car, more emergency vehicles were showing up so moving my car was not an option. I asked a few people what happened and no one seemed to know exactly what went down. There was a guy lying on his stomach just inside 1831 with paramedics attending to him. When they brought him out on the stretcher, he was on his stomach with his head up looking around. He didn't seem like he was fatally wounded.

About this time I noticed a friend of mine sitting at a table on the patio in front of Copper Top. I asked him what happened. He said a guy shot up the side door to Copper Top (probably the first shot we heard) then came around the corner (from the outside) and started unloading on the people on the patio in front of Copper Top and 1831. Said it was a single shooter, a white guy in a bandanna. My friend had been shot in the heel of his foot. He showed me where the bullet went through the back of his shoe and it seemed like a really small hole, as if it was from a .22 or something. His foot wasn't too messed up either, although he had clearly been shot in the foot. Another guy right there had been grazed on the top of the foot and there was a girl who had taken a shot in the thigh. Her wound looked really small as well.

Paramedics were attending to someone inside Copper Top and he eventually walked out of the bar with his shirt off, holding his shirt pressed tight to the upper part of his chest. Again, from everything I saw, it seemed like the shooter used small caliber bullets. I stuck around with my friend until paramedics surrounded him, even though he told them he was fine. I heard a cop tell another cop that Copper Top has a great camera system so hopefully they got the shooter on camera.

I went back to Mellow and we finished our poker game, since there was nothing we could do except be in the way. No one was rushed away in an ambulance. After our game was over, I was getting ready to leave Mellow Mushroom and drive home. By this time, police had taped off everything from where Greensboro meets 4th Street (the road in front of Copper Top), to the intersection at 4th and 23rd, to where 23rd Avenue and University Blvd meet. A cop at University and 23rd (right in front of Mellow) told me I wouldn't be able to move my car until the investigation was done, which would probably be 7 or 8 in the morning, since it was right in the middle of a crime scene.

I spoke to him for a few minutes about the incident. He said 17 people had been shot, 4 critical, and no one had died that he knew of. He said it was like a "miniature Columbine" and that the shooter just had the intention of killing people at random. Luckily (hopefully) no one was killed. He confirmed it was a white male in a vest (he pointed to his vest and said 'a vest like this' so I assume he meant a bullet-proof vest--maybe). He also confirmed the shooter had not been caught and he seemed uncertain about the chances of collecting useful footage from the cameras at Copper Top.Just want to disclose as much as I can so there's no confusion here.

Forgot to mention, people I spoke to on the scene said it was an assault rifle of some sort that he was shooting, and the last officer I spoke to confirmed this. The wounds I saw and the bullet hole in my friend's shoe looked like something small, but my coworker who served in Iraq said some assault rifles (I don't remember the one he named--I don't know a lot about guns) fire .22 caliber bullets.


Happy Birthday, Sandra Killen Burroughs !


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