YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Nation

Two Police Officers Killed in Alabama

Authorities say teen seizes a gun while being booked. A dispatcher also is slain.

June 08, 2003|From Associated Press

FAYETTE, Ala. — A teenager being booked at a small-town police station grabbed an officer's gun and opened fire early Saturday, killing two officers and a dispatcher before fleeing in a police car, authorities said.

The cruiser was spotted about 3 1/2 hours later, about 10 miles beyond the state line in Mississippi, and the driver was arrested, said Lowndes County, Miss., Sheriff's Deputy Tony Mulligan.

The suspect, identified in Mississippi jail records as Devan Darnel Moore, 18, will be charged with capital murder, said Chris McCool, district attorney for Fayette County.

The shootings stunned this quiet community of 5,000, an old textile town where many people work in small manufacturing plants near Alabama's hilly coal country.

Moore, who grew up in Fayette but graduated from high school in neighboring Walker County two weeks ago, was well-known in town because his older brother, Michael Moore, played football at the University of Alabama and is now with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe.

Moore's father, Kenneth Moore, told Associated Press his younger son had a troubled past but he thought the young man had turned things around when he graduated and announced he would join the Air Force.

"The people here that I've been talking to, I told he needs help," Kenneth Moore said.

Officials said Moore was being booked on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle when the gunfire erupted inside the one-story brick police station about 5:30 a.m.

A firefighter heard the shots from the adjoining fire station and rushed into the police station. The men were dead and the suspect gone, Mayor Ron Nelson said.

City Councilman Cedric Wilson said those killed were Cpl. James Crump, Officer Arnold Strickland and dispatcher Ace Mealer.

Nelson said the suspect had been handcuffed after being stopped about 3 a.m., but the handcuffs could have been removed during fingerprinting.

"There was a struggle," Nelson said.

The Alabama House of Representatives, in session Saturday, held a moment of silence for the victims.

With the bodies still lying in the police station Saturday as forensics experts gathered evidence, about a half-dozen officers placed black ribbons on signposts outside. They briefly bowed their heads in prayer.

"It's a sad day for all of us who wear the badge," Police Chief Euel Hall said.

Wilson said he was familiar with the suspect but didn't know what could have motivated the violence.

"That kind of boggles all of us, what would make him do such a thing," Wilson said.

Kenneth Moore said he sent his son to live with the young man's mother two years ago because he couldn't control him. He said his son would often steal his car, and last year his mother found a gun in the house.

"I'm a discipline parent and everybody around town knows I'm a good parent," Moore said.

"I kept telling people about it, going to the church and telling people he was a troubled child, but people didn't pay me no mind. I raised him from a baby, but people don't listen."

Los Angeles Times Articles