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Hartselle Enquirer
Photo by Eric Fleischauer ALEA officers survey an area behind a residence on Emory Drive where two people, including a Priceville police officer, were shot Monday afternoon. 

Priceville police chief wounded, suspect killed in shootout

By Bayne Hughes

A suspect died and the Priceville police chief was wounded after they exchanged gunfire Monday afternoon on Emory Drive in the Cove Creek subdivision.

At 6:35 p.m. a post on Priceville police Chief Rick Williams’ Facebook page said, “I’m good y’all. Couple minor surgeries on the agenda. Thank you all. (Heart emoji) U, Chief.” Priceville Mayor Sam Heflin confirmed the chief had been shot.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike Swafford confirmed the shootout, that the two men were taken to Decatur Morgan Hospital and the subsequent death of the suspect at the hospital.

Swafford and Priceville Mayor Sam Heflin said the officer is recovering, but they declined to release the name of the suspect.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is investigating the incident. Investigators could be seen Monday afternoon searching behind the Emory Drive property, which backs up to a ravine that separates it from Derby Drive. Police tape extended from the Emory Drive house to Derby Drive.

Swafford said an Emory Drive resident called Morgan 911 at 2:14 p.m. to report a “suspicious person” near the home located on the end of Emory Drive.

“Once the officer got on the scene, the two men exchanged fire and both were hit,” Swafford said.

Emory Drive neighbor Shane Murray said he and his wife “heard several gunshots at about 2:15 or 2:30 p.m., and then we heard three bursts of shots. It then became quiet.”

Murray said they initially thought someone was shooting fireworks but then he saw a group of construction employees who had been pouring concrete for a new house just down the street running away. They said they were running to avoid the gunfire, he said.

“After about five minutes, three more cops came up in their gear but the shooting had stopped by then so they got their EMT stuff out,” Murray said.

First Responders from all over Morgan County, including Decatur, Somerville and the Sheriff’s Office, descended on the subdivision that’s on the side of Priceville Mountain. Swafford said more than 30 vehicles responded.

The incident was in the waning moments of the school day, and Priceville Elementary is less than a mile from the scene. Swafford said this led school resource officers to put Priceville’s three schools in lockdown for 10 to 15 minutes.

A Lifeguard Ambulance initially planned to meet MedFlight in the parking lot of the Priceville Business Center to transport the officer, but Swafford said medical personnel decided to take both the officer and the suspect to Decatur Morgan Hospital.

One ambulance could be seen with an escort of about 10 first-response vehicles, including from Decatur Fire & Rescue, Decatur police and the Sheriff’s Office.

Murray said it was disconcerting to hear gunshots in a subdivision like Cove Creek, which he said is known for its trick-or-treating on Halloween because of the large number of children.

“We moved out here last year from Decatur because we were having our third kid and we needed more space,” Murray said. “We wanted a neighborhood that’s established and quiet. It’s a very family-friendly neighborhood.”