Ala. police kill suspects after separate shootings

December 15, 2012 - 9:32 PM
Hospital Shooting

Birmingham police arrive at the scene of a shooting at St. Vincent's Hospital on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 in Birmingham, Ala. Authorities in Alabama say a man opened fire the hospital, wounding an officer and two employees before he was fatally shot by police. Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams says the officer and employees suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening. (AP Photo/al.com, Joe Songer).

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Police in Alabama fatally shot two suspects Saturday following separate shooting incidents 75 miles apart that left several others, including two officers, wounded.

Authorities said Jason Letts, 38, of Jemison opened fire early Saturday morning at a hospital in Birmingham, wounding a police officer and two employees before being shot and killed by another officer.

Police were sent to St. Vincent's Hospital around 4 a.m. to check on a report of an armed man inside the facility. Two officers who arrived separately converged on the suspect on the hospital's fifth floor.

"When the officer encountered the suspect, there was immediate gunfire from the suspect," Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams said. He said detectives were still trying to establish a motive.

A handful of cardiac patients and several staff members were on the fifth floor, hospital spokeswoman Liz Moore told reporters during a news conference. She said the hospital is secure and stable, and patient care was not interrupted.

"In light of the recent mass shooting in Connecticut, too many of these incidents end with unimaginable tragedy," Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said in a statement.

In a separate incident, police officers in eastern Alabama shot an assailant armed with an AK-47 assault rifle toward the end of a pursuit that left several people injured, authorities said.

The pursuit began after a shooting in Cleburne County, Oxford police Lt. L.G. Owens told The Anniston Star. The county is near the Georgia state line.

Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge said a woman and two children were shot, but he did not know their conditions.

Around noon, the chase reached the intersection of Leon Smith Parkway and U.S. 78, a busy retail district. Owens said the suspect fired at law-enforcement officers, injuring a Heflin police officer. Partridge said the suspect used an AK-47 during the firefight.

Officials said the suspect then forced his way into a Nissan at the intersection, although the occupants were able to escape.

Police caught up with the assailant about an hour later in nearby Coldwater. Partridge said two members of the Oxford police SWAT team fatally shot the suspect.

The number of people injured during the spree was not immediately clear. Police officials did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

Law enforcement officials were examining multiple crime scenes Saturday afternoon, trying to determine what happened, said Lynn Hammond, the chief assistant district attorney for Calhoun and Cleburne counties. She said that authorities are investigating a homicide, but she declined to comment further.