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Three Alabama Police Officers Slain

June 18, 2004|From Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Three police officers at a house to make an arrest were shot to death Thursday, authorities said.

Colleagues of the officers found their bodies outside the house where the three had gone to serve "misdemeanor-type warrants," said Brett Oates, a city spokesman.

Authorities did not release further details, but the small, one-story dwelling, divided into apartments, had a reputation in the low-income neighborhood as a site for drug dealing.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said Nathaniel Lauell Woods, 27, and four others were in police custody.

Birmingham Police Chief Annetta Nunn, who had described Woods as a suspect and released his mug shot, told reporters three people were in custody and declined to say if Woods was among them. It was not known if any charges had been filed.

"We just ask the public to pray for the officers, their families and the officers who are still on duty," Nunn said at a news conference.

At least some shots appeared to have been fired outside the house.

One of two police cars hauled from the scene appeared to have a window shot out, and there was glass on the street where the car had been parked.

After the shootings, dozens of officers -- some wearing body armor and carrying shotguns -- swarmed around the house and went door to door in the neighborhood before the arrests were announced.

Herman Harris, who lives in the area, said the building where the shootings occurred had a reputation as a "crack house."

The deaths marked the third time in just more than a year that two or more police officers had been gunned down in Alabama.

Two police officers and a dispatcher were shot to death at the police station in Fayette on June 7, 2003.

On Jan. 2, two Athens police officers were gunned down in an ambush after they were called to a home.

A suspect has been charged with murder in each case, and each has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

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