MCSO investigator: Pandemic didn’t play part in mass killings
By Michael Wetzel
For the Enquirer
Morgan County sheriff’s investigator Jordan Byrd said he’s proud of his work in helping find the defendants in the septuple shooting deaths in Valhermoso Springs in June 2020. The 29-year-old department veteran adds he doesn’t believe COVID-19 played a role in killings.
John Michael Legg, 20, of Hartselle and Frederic Allen Rogers, 23, of Woodville, are accused of going into a known drug house on Talucah Road and firing more than 60 rounds, killing seven occupants of the house and a little dog, June 4, 2020.
It is the single-highest mass fatal shooting in Morgan County’s history and the second-highest in the state.
The two defendants were apprehended 17 days later in Marion County, Oregon.
“COVID was not really a part in that case, I don’t believe,” said Byrd, who is the county’s lead investigator in the case. “Differences were there with (the alleged shooters and at least one of the victims). Things happen. I believe it was going to happen, COVID or not.”
Byrd said he was pleased to tell the seven families of the victims, “we got the guys.”
“Being a part of that and getting closure for the families,” he said. “Putting somebody in jail for that was very rewarding – probably the most rewarding thing in my entire law enforcement career of nine years.”
He said the pandemic has played a role in other shootings and domestic incidents in the area.
“Crime in general has gone up because of COVID,” he said. “People are locked up in the house and not being out as much.”
He added Morgan County’s public support for the department remains strong.
“We have a lot of good people who support us,” he said. “In a bigger county, that might be different, however. That’s very important to us. About 90 percent of our cases are solved with tips from the community.”
He said he worries about bringing COVID-19 into his home.
“I work with people face-to-face and worry about getting COVID and getting the family sick,” he said. “That’s been my biggest worry.”
On a scale of 1 to 10, he said, COVID has impacted investigations about “a 6 or 7.”
He said the bulk of the department’s training and meetings with federal agencies have been virtual.