SAMSON, Ala. — A gunman went on a shooting spree in two neighboring south Alabama towns Tuesday, killing nine people before he shot himself at a metals plant, authorities said.
Police are investigating at least four separate shootings, all thought to have been done by one gunman, whose name was not released, the Alabama Department of Safety said in a statement.
The shootings began late in the afternoon in Samson, Ala. The shooter killed five people in one home and one each in two other homes.
The gunman also shot at a state trooper's car, striking the vehicle seven times and wounding the trooper with broken glass.
He then killed someone at a supply store and another person at a service station.
Samson contractor Greg McCullough said he was pumping gas at the station when the gunman opened fire, killing a woman coming out of the service station and wounding McCullough in the shoulder and arm with bullet fragments that struck his truck and the pump.
"I first thought it was somebody playing," he said. He said the gunman roared into the parking lot and slammed on his brakes. Then he saw the rifle.
He said the gunman fired and the rifle appeared to jam, then he "went back to firing." Then he drove off.
McCullough, a father of two, said he tried to help the woman who was shot and yelled for someone to call an ambulance.
"I'm just in awe that something like this could take place. That someone could do such a thing. It's just shocking," McCullough told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Police pursued the gunman to Reliable Metal Products just north of Geneva, about a dozen miles southeast of Samson, where he fired an estimated 30 rounds, the safety department said. One of the bullets hit Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey, who was saved by his bullet proof vest.
The statement said the gunman then went in the plant and shot himself.
The gunman had worked at Reliable Metal, said state Rep. Warren Beck, a Republican whose district includes Geneva.
"My secretary heard gunfire everywhere," he said. "This is one of the most tragic events ever in Geneva County."
State Sen. Harri Anne Smith, R-Slocomb, said some of those killed in Samson were sitting outside.
"He was just driving down the street shooting at people sitting on their porches," she said. "A family was just sitting on the porch and they were shot."
The department of safety said state fire marshals are investigating the scene of a burned house in Coffee County where one body was found. The scene is believed to be involved in this series of incidents.
Reliable Metal Products makes grills and vents for heating and AC systems, mainly for hotels. A call to a person who answered the phone at the plant said no one could talk about the shooting.
The towns of Geneva and Samson are roughly 30 miles south of Fort Rucker, near the Florida border in southeast Alabama. Geneva's population is about 4,400 and Samson, 2,000.
Smith and Beck were at the Statehouse when state troopers came to get them and took them to Geneva County. Smith said the governor's office was sending resources and state troopers were setting up a command post.