In the wake of the May Day mass shooting in Baldwin County, the coroner said there is a big problem with small facilities.

Nineteen people were shot during the May Day event on May 11. Dr. Brian Pierce told 1819 News that although three died, it could have been worse. He said he almost didn't have enough room for bodies because, on top of the shooting, there were several other cases his office had to investigate.

"There were several events with many people when we got the call," Pierce said. "Luckily, we had low numbers in the morgues at the beginning of the weekend, but on Friday, we had already worked three natural deaths, two suspected drug overdoses, and a crush injury death."

Pierce said when he was notified about the mass shooting, he was at an event in Fairhope with a few thousand people. At the same time, there was a large concert at the Wharf. He said with all the events going on in Baldwin County and the county's massive growth over the past 10 years, he hopes change is on the way.

By Sunday, the coroner's office had custody of 13 bodies. There is only room for 15, so Pierce said the county was one car wreck from maxing out or exceeding its capacity.

In fact, the morgue was so crowded that some bodies couldn't undergo an exam until the following Tuesday.

Pierce said it is evident that Baldwin County Forensics needs a larger, more robust facility.

Pierce told 1819 News the coroner's office also needed additional workspace for the coroners and crime scene investigators.

The coroner's office has a mobile morgue that can hold 12 bodies. However, setting up the mobile morgue is a process and not a secure facility. When coroner cases involve violent deaths, Pierce said it is very important to store bodies, which are used as evidence, in a secure facility.

Pierce hopes to meet with the District Attorney, the sheriff and the county EMA to discuss the next steps to get a larger facility. He said the decision is ultimately up to the Baldwin County Commission. He previously voiced concerns to the commission and was told the funding was not available.

"Every month we wait, every year we wait, we get further behind the eight ball," Pierce said. "It would be 18 months to two years now before it even became a reality."

Pierce said the coroner's office has been able to add more positions and has modular office space for offices. He said he is thankful those changes were made so that his chief deputy no longer has to work in a storage room with a desk made out of cardboard boxes.

"We've got the right number of people," he said. "We just need a little space to do the work."

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