MOODY, Ala. – A veteran Alabama police officer was shot and killed Tuesday night in a standoff between police and two suspects at the Super 8 motel in this suburban community 22 miles east of Birmingham.
Police Chief Thomas Hunt identified the victim as Sgt. Stephen Williams, 50, the married father of three children. He had been a policeman for 23 years in the Birmingham area, joining the Moody force three years ago.
A man and woman suspect holed up in a room at the motel were taken into police custody, said Hunt. They were not immediately identified. Nor were details about the hours-long standoff with police.
Officers swarmed the area around the motel off U.S. Highway 11 in response to a trouble call. Hunt said gunfire broke out around 9:30 p.m. (CDT).
Amar Founda told police he was in the room next to the suspects when he heard what sounded “like an AK-47” firing. He said he hid in the bathroom for several minutes, then peeked out a window at flashing blue lights from police cars, and noticed one of the officers on the ground.
Williams was taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Birmingham, where he was pronounced dead.
Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall said in a statement the incident does not appear to be related to protests in Birmingham and elsewhere over a white police officer killing a handcuffed black man in Minneapolis.
"Sergeant Williams was responding to a call for help at local hotel," said Marshall. "He showed up, ready to assist, and was instantly shot dead. At this point, we have no reason to believe that Sergeant Williams’s shooting is related to the unrest we’re witnessing across the nation."
Nevertheless, Marshall added, Alabama has been "plagued in recent months by a lack of respect for law enforcement -- most of whom are genuinely good men and women, from all backgrounds, doing an incredibly difficult job."
Chief Hunt said Williams had been promoted to police sergeant in the last year. “He was a good man, a good person, a good teacher, a good mentor,” Hunt told al.com. “A lot of guys looked up to Stephen.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she was “deeply saddened” by Williams’ death. “Beyond his career in law enforcement, he was a father. And now three children are left without their dad.”
The governor added in a statement: “This senseless violence must end. Every Day, brave men and women who wear the badge put their lives on the line in order to keep us safe. We are greatly indebted for his service on our behalf. I ask the people of Alabama to join me in prayer for his family, friends and his brothers in arms.”
Last year, six Alabama police officers were killed in the line of duty, the highest number in more than 30 years. Williams is the second Alabama officer shot to death this year. Kimberly policeman Nick O’Rear, 33, was fatally shot Feb. 4 during a police pursuit on Interstate 65 South. Kimberly is 17 miles north of Birmingham.
The Associated Press contributed details to this story.