Officer shooting suspect had run in at Dannon Project

Suspect had run in with local charity before shooting

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Just hours before a shootout in downtown Birmingham last week, Roderick Wilson made his way to the Dannon Project.

He wasn’t a client there. The organization which helps people get back on their feet tells us Wilson first showed up as they were grilling out back.

Wilson didn’t ask for any food. He just seemed to be mad at the world and had words with a staff member.

"Just agitated and you could tell that something was going on with him. We didn’t know if it was maybe high or intoxicated but we knew something was going on with him,” Willie Davis, with the Dannon Project said.

Davis says later in the day Wilson came back a second time and was seen coming out of an abandoned school building right behind the Dannon Project. Davis says he was stirring around a little but eventually left.

A short time later, police say Wilson robbed a convenience store near 23rd Street North. He then got into a gun battle with police that spanned a few blocks. Investigators say Wilson shot officer Cullen Stafford multiple times before police shot and killed him on scene.

"It kind of shocked us and it kind of made us realize that you never know what’s going on in a person’s mind and that very well could have been one of our staff members that got hurt,” Davis said.

Davis says in hindsight he wishes they had more of an opportunity to talk with Wilson that day.

"Had we known and had time to really talk with him a little bit more we could have sat him down with one of our mental health counselors. We also help people get jobs and help them get housing. So those resources are available and that keeps you from having to do things like rob a store,” Davis said.

Wilson has had a number of run ins with law enforcement. One of those was in 2017 after being accused of throwing rocks at vehicles. Court records say he became extremely violent and pulled a knife on deputies before they tased him and took him into custody.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is still investigating the case. Officer Cullen Stafford has gone through many surgeries and will go through many more before he is fully recovered.

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