Dozens of gunshots were fired in downtown Birmingham Wednesday evening, severely injuring a police officer and killing a man suspected of robbing a downtown supermarket. when North Precinct officers were sent to a robbery in progress at the Family Supermarket, a mom-n-pop store on 23rd Street North.
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said as officers arrived, they saw the suspect leaving the store. They encountered and attempted to stop him. Cullen Stafford was shot multiple times
Fellow officers loaded him into a police cruiser and rushed to UAB Hospital's Trauma Center. Stafford, shot between five to seven times, was out of surgery at 1
"We often talk about how our officers put their lives on the line every day for our safety," said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. "Tonight is proof of the courage, valor and strength It takes to wear that badge Officer Stafford, your city stands with you. ”Multiple officers responded to Stafford's call for help and, once they arrived, the suspect continued shooting at them. was killed. His name has not yet been released.
Smith said the suspect fired from multiple locations, but the final burst of gunfire took place near a parking deck in the 500 block of 25th Street. deck
Authorities estimate between 50 to 100 rounds were fired in what has been described as a running gun battle, and an ambush.
There are reports that the suspect was firing from the parking deck before jumping to the bushes and continuing to fire, w here he was ultimately killed. Police have not confirmed that account. At least one person was doing a Facebook live video from within the store, and then after exiting the store. That video recorded dozens of shots fired.
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A second officer fell and suffered injuries in a severe case. "His condition is good as I know is very good," Smith said.
Police blocked off a wide perimeter downtown and said the streets were likely to be closed at least six hours. Five city blocks
"He fired from multiple locations, so we have many crime scenes within a very large crime scene because of the number of times the suspect fired at our officers," he said.
Smith praised the "The faster you get the wounded officer to the hospital," he said.
The shooting comes six months after the shooting death of Birmingham police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, who also was killed in downtown Birmingham. Officer Lucas Allums was seriously wounded in that shooting.
Wednesday night's shooting is not the first line of duty injury for Stafford, a veteran officer who turns 36 on
Staffing and Officer Winston Hunt were seriously injured on June 30, 2017 when fleeing homicide suspects barreled into their patrol cruiser.
Hunt at The time was still on the training car after just graduating from the Birmingham Police Academy on March 17. Officers working the homicide scene spotted the possible suspect vehicle. They confirmed that it was in fact the suspects and a pursuit. Another patrol car was at the intersection of 18th and Grant, Sgt. Bryan Shelton said at the time. The suspects' vehicle made its way to the area and collided with the patrol car seat at 18th and Grant. The two officers were T-boned by a suspect fleeing the deadly shooting
Stafford was named the West Precinct's first Officer of the Year in 2017. Stafford was chosen as the 2016 winner. "Officer Stafford has been a training officer for several years and has been training two officers from every academy class and training transfers from other agencies to the West Precinct," said then Capt. Paul Irwin, who is now the Pell City Police Chief. "All of the officers he has trained speak very highly of him, and this is the leadership that we need within all levels of law enforcement to be effective."
calls. "He locates people who are firing weapons and most of whom are charged federally for the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon," Irwin said.
Multiple officers were keeping vigil at UAB Hospital Wednesday night. Police officials said Stafford will have to undergo additional surgeries for his injuries.
"It's very difficult for everyone, but this is a very tough job," Smith said Wednesday night. “We have officers who are here who we've provided a lot of training to, a lot of support. We're going to continue to support them throughout this process, just like we did during the time we released Sgt. Carter. ”
“ I'm very confident our officers will do very well, ”he said,“ it's just about having the right training and support behind you. ”“ The Birmingham Police Department is out here working for you, "the chief said." We're going to do everything we can to make this city safe. Our officers are dedicated, and you can see just in the sheer actions that we are not taking this for granted. Birmingham is going to be a much better place in the future. ”
Asked if he had a message for criminals, Smith said this:“ Our officers out here to do a job and we're going to take care of the problems and circumstances we encounter. ”
Hours after Stafford was injured, a South Precinct officer fired his weapon after witnessing two groups of people shooting at each other in the South African public housing community.
One person was shot in that incident .
"We believe they were already injured when the officer arrived on the scene," Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Johnny Williams said, pointing out that the person was removed from the scene before the officer arrived and taken to a hospital in a private vehicle.