By ALICIA LEONARD
On the afternoon of March 10, in the space of one hour, an Alabama gunman cut a swath of death and destruction through 20 miles of Geneva County, AL., in what authorities are calling the largest mass murder by a single gunman in Alabama history.
The Department of Public Safety issued a “Multiple Homicide Investigation News Statement” regarding the sequence of events after gunman Michael McLendon killed 10 people and then himself on Tuesday March 10, in Kinston, Samson and Geneva, Alabama.
The release stated, “State, federal and local investigators responding to the multiple homicides March 10 in south Alabama are piecing together the sequence of events that resulted in the shooting deaths of 10 victims, the injury of six individuals, and the death of the suspect from a self-inflicted gunshot. Investigators also are working to determine a motive for the deadly attacks. The gunman has been identified as Michael Kenneth McLendon, 28, of Coffee County.
“We believe the attacks began at McLendon’s mother’s residence in Coffee County on County Road 474 in Kinston, where McLendon also lived. The body of a woman was discovered at the residence at approximately 3:30 p.m. when local firefighters responded to witness reports of a fire at that location. The Department of Forensic Sciences is working to confirm the identity, but the victim is believed to be Lisa White McLendon, 52, McLendon’s mother.
“McLendon then traveled to Samson in Geneva County, where he shot and killed five individuals on the front porch of his uncle’s residence on West Pullum Street. The victims are identified as: Corrine Gracy Myers, 18 months, the daughter of Geneva County Deputy Josh Myers; Andrea D. Myers, 31, mother of the 18-month-old and wife of Deputy Myers; James Alford White, 55, identified as McLendon’s uncle; Tracy Michelle Wise, 34, identified as McLendon’s cousin; Dean James Wise, 15, identified as Ms. Wise’s son and McLendon’s second cousin. Injured at that residence was 4-month-old Ella K. Myers, the daughter of Deputy Myers. Ella was transported by LifeFlight to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. She was listed in stable condition and scheduled for surgery.
“McLendon then shot and killed Virginia E. White, 74, identified as McLendon’s grandmother, who was standing in the doorway of her home on Pullum Street, next door to the residence where the first attack occurred.
“McLendon then left Pullum Street, traveling north on Wise Street in a red 2003 Mitsubishi. On Wise Street, McLendon shot and killed a pedestrian, James Irvin Starling, 24. McLendon continued north onto Main Street in Samson, where he shot and injured Jeffrey Lynn Nelson, 50.
“McLendon then traveled to the Inland Gas Station on Main Street in Samson, where he shot and killed Sonja Smith, 43. Injured at that location was Greg McCullough, 49. McLendon continued traveling east on Alabama 52, firing rounds into several businesses and vehicles as he drove.
“At 4:01 p.m. CDT, an Alabama state trooper notified the Dothan State Trooper Post that he had received a report of a subject shooting at people in Samson, and the trooper proceeded toward Samson on Alabama 52.
“McLendon, traveling east on SR-52 toward Geneva, then shot and killed Bruce Wilson Malloy, 51, who was traveling in a vehicle on SR-52.
“At 4:06 p.m. CDT, the Alabama state trooper encountered McLendon on Alabama 52, and McLendon fired at least seven rounds into the trooper’s vehicle. The trooper, Mike Gillis, was injured slightly by broken glass, and continued the pursuit on McLendon into Geneva.
“The Geneva Police Department attempted to stop McLendon using a PIT, or pursuit intervention maneuver, in front of the Wal-Mart in Geneva. McLendon fired several rounds into the officer’s vehicle, injuring him with glass fragments. Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey attempted to block McLendon’s exit from the area, at which time McLendon fired several rounds at the chief. Chief Lindsey was wounded in the shoulder.
“McLendon continued on Highway 52, turned onto Maple Avenue in Geneva, and then onto Highway 27 north. He stopped at Reliable Products in Geneva at 4:17 p.m., where he exited his vehicle. McLendon exchanged fire with a Geneva County deputy and a state Conservation officer before entering the Reliable Products building. Within minutes, gunshots were heard, and McLendon was discovered dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“McLendon was employed at Kelley Foods of Alabama. We have identified that in 2003, he was briefly employed as a police officer in Samson, but failed to complete required training at the police academy in Montgomery. He had no known criminal record.
“McLendon was armed with two assault rifles, an SKS and a Bushmaster, using high-capacity magazines taped together; a shotgun; and a .38-caliber handgun. At this time, we believe that he fired in excess of 200 rounds during the assaults.
“In addition to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, agencies participating in the investigation are the Geneva County Sheriff’s Department, Geneva Police Department, Samson Police Department, Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, Dothan Police Department, Dale County Sheriff’s Department, Andalusia Police Department, Covington County Sheriff’s Department, New Brockton Police Department, Ozark Police Department, State Fire Marshal, Alabama Beverage Control Board, Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Forensic Sciences, Emergency Management Agency, Alabama Power Company investigators, the FBI, ATF, and Ft. Rucker Police Department.”