St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray has a message for lawmakers and leaders in Alabama: Do not defund law enforcement.
After an incident involving a man wanted out of Georgia, Murray held a press conference and voiced concerns about the many opportunities the suspect had with law enforcement.
John Stutts, 28, of Sheffield, is suspected of committing "numerous felonies" in "numerous jurisdictions."
His crimes ended early Thursday when he was chased by officers from multiple agencies after being suspected of an armed carjacking. The carjacking happened late Wednesday at the Love's Truck Stop in Steele. When police caught up with him, deputies said Stutts fired shots at them with a rifle. They chased him into Springville, where spike strips were deployed, disabling his car. He crashed into two employees' cars at Taco Bell in Springville Station, got out and fired more shots at officers and deputies, Murray said. That's when the officers fired back, striking him and killing him.
"Do not point a weapon at law enforcement. If you do, you will be shot," said Murray. "That's how we train, and that's how we go home safe."
Murray said the time from the crash to the shooting was only 14 seconds.
"This was a long incident that ended very quickly," said Murray.
The Jacksonville State University Center for Applied Forensics and the Oxford Police Department have been called in as part of a partnership to investigate, and multiple law enforcement agencies assisted during the chase.
"There is no rhyme or reason why he put so many lives in jeopardy, but what is important is he won't put anybody else's lives in jeopardy," Murray said.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Murray has a message concerning funding for law enforcement.
"Anybody that has any oversight over budgetary means for law enforcement, I would do everything in my power to make sure I did not defund law enforcement, and I gave them all the tools necessary to do their job," Murray said.
Furthermore, Murray said Stutts had a criminal history and was known by law enforcement in Alabama and Georgia.
"This is what law enforcement deals with on a daily basis," Murray said. "Felons and guns do not mix. And I will say that again for our Alabama legislators. Felons and guns do not mix. And I would invite them to come ride with law enforcement to see what it's like."
Murray said support needs to be statewide and nationwide.
"It's preventable by obeying law enforcement, obviously not committing felony offenses, and obviously not by being given numerous opportunities to do so," said Murray.
No officers were hurt during the chase and shooting. Counseling is being made available to those involved.
"I am proud of our law enforcement officers, brave men and women of law enforcement, and the job they do every day," said Murray.
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