Quick response in Hamilton shootings may have prevented more deaths
HAMILTON, AL (WBRC) - Marion County authorities identified two victims and the suspect in a double homicide in Hamilton on Wednesday afternoon.
The victims were identified as Linda Cole, 61, and Donny Miller, 67, both of Hamilton.
The suspect is identified as Jimmy Cooper, a 57-year-old Hamilton man who law enforcement officials said did not have a criminal background.
District Attorney Jack Bostick said Cooper was a business partner of one of the victims and had been a client of the other, but did not give any other details about the relationship between Cooper and his victims.
The motive for the shooting is still unknown. Investigators are still in the process of interviewing witnesses and taking statements.
Sheriff Kevin Williams said in July 2015, a family member signed an order for Cooper to be committed to a mental facility. The sheriff's office transported Cooper to Jasper for a mental evaluation and at some point he was released.
"I would like to say the legislators of Alabama need to step up because we have a problem with mental patients with guns," Sheriff Williams said.
"You know our problem in the state of Alabama, we have nowhere to put them. Our county jails are being flooded with mental patients that we legally really can't take care of, we're not trained fully," he said.
"The state of Alabama needs to step up, in my opinion, and fund that department more or we're gonna have more people like this that should be not really behind bars but should be in the mental institution and they need to address this problem, in my opinion," Williams added.
Bostick said they anticipate charging Cooper with two counts of capital murder in the case and will likely pursue the death penalty.
"My inclination right now is to say, yes, we will pursue the death penalty," Bostick said.
The initial call about the shooting came a little before 11 a.m., according to Sheriff Williams.
Investigators say Cooper shot and killed Donny Miller at Scott Hunt's law office first, then walked to Lawler and Cole's tax office and fatally shot Linda Cole.
Officials said Cooper used a handgun to kill both victims.
After the shootings, responding law enforcement officers saw Cooper fleeing on foot in the street.
Two Marion County sheriff's deputies and a Hamilton police officer engaged Cooper behind the First State Bank. A private citizen assisted law enforcement during the exchange of gunfire.
Authorities took Cooper into custody behind the Bank.
"He was not going to surrender. Not at all," Sheriff Williams said.
During the arrest, Cooper was shot in the leg and had a grazing wound to his arm. He's being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at UAB Hospital and is under armed guard.
The sheriff described Hamilton as a small town were everybody knows everybody.
"We're struggling with it. This is small town America. Alabama, rural part. We don't expect that here. It's something we don't have a lot of, shootings in this county," Sheriff Williams said.
"Today it's put everyone in shock…the entire community is just stunned at this point in time," DA Bostick added.
ALEA is investigating the officer-involved shooting portion of the incident.
"Although we will conduct a thorough investigation of the officer-involved shooting, the initial indication is that the deputies, officer and private citizen acted without hesitation and probably prevented the further loss of life," Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said.
ALEA officials have seen surveillance video of the confrontation between Cooper and local officers and said Cooper had full intentions of killing law enforcement officers after he shot Miller and Cole.
The Hamilton Police Department and Marion County Sheriff's Office are investigating the double homicide.
Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier, ALEA officials, the SBI, the Hamilton Police Department and Marion County Sheriff's Office participated in a news conference about the case on Wednesday afternoon.
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