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Police: Gunman dead after killing 2 at fire hydrant factory

Mueller plant in Albertville, Alabama, on June 15, 2021. Source: WAAY-TV

Updated - Police in Alabama say a worker fatally shot two people and wounded two others at a fire hydrant factory before killing himself.

Posted: Jun 15, 2021 9:40 AM
Updated: Jun 16, 2021 4:43 PM

ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A worker wielding a handgun fatally shot two people and wounded two others at an Alabama fire hydrant factory early Tuesday before killing himself, police said.

The shooting — which happened about 2:30 a.m. at a Mueller Co. plant in Albertville — added to a slew of homicides around the country. Several hours later, gunfire in Chicago claimed four victims.

In the Alabama case, a manhunt ended when the shooter's body was found inside a Jeep in Guntersville, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away from the factory, shortly after daybreak. Multiple weapons were found inside the vehicle, Albertville Police Chief Jamie Smith said at a news conference.

Smith said the suspect appears to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. What prompted him to kill and maim his coworkers wasn't immediately clear, the chief said. He called the shooting “completely unprovoked.”

The chief identified the dead men as Michael Dobbins and David Horton, and the shooter as Andreas Horton, 34. He said that as far as he knew, the Hortons were not related, and had “no ties other than co-workers.”

Two other people — Casey Sampson and Isaac Byrd — were hospitalized. Their conditions weren't immediately known. They were taken to a nearby hospital and later transferred to a larger hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the chief said.

The body of Andreas Horton, who was sometimes called Andy, was found in his vehicle, parked along a road overlooking his mother’s grave in Guntersville City Cemetery. She died of cancer at age 40 in 2011. A distant relative of Horton’s, Sanchez Watkins, said he last saw Andreas a few months ago at a grocery store.

“Andy was a good guy. Very quiet, easygoing. You would never expect this from him,” Watkins said.

Cody Windsor, a Mueller employee who was at home at the time, told The Associated Press that he knew both Hortons, but didn't know what might have prompted the shootings.

Windsor said friends working the overnight shift told him the shooting happened in a part of the plant where fire hydrants and pipes are painted, and that an announcement about an active shooter was made over a PA system at the factory, which occupies several buildings over a large area near a railroad track, with fire hydrants stored on racks outside.

The police chief said the crime scene encompasses a large area inside the sprawling plant, and victims were found in two or three different locations inside.

Windsor said he and David Horton, a foundry helper who could do most any job in the plant, were buddies at work and often hung out together during breaks. “We’d sit in our cars and listen to music,” he said. “Andy” Horton was quiet and recently went through the death of his mother, Windsor said.

“We work together and we bond together. We’re here as much as we are at home,” he said. He added that the shooting made him nervous about going back to work for fear “that somebody is going to walk in the door and shoot you."

Ann Walters told Al.com that Dobbins was her grandson, and that he had been working at the factory for nearly a year, saving up to buy a home and a car. “He was a perfect gentleman, everybody will tell you. He was good to everybody and put his family first,” she said.

Mueller Co., based in Cleveland, Tennessee, is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products Inc., which calls itself a leading maker of water distribution and measurement products in North America. More than 400 people work at the plant in Albertville, giving the city in northwest Alabama its nickname of “Fire Hydrant Capital of the World.”

In a statement read aloud by the police chief, company officials said they were “shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy,” and “committed to providing help and support” to the victims’ families.

The growing gun violence nationwide has police and criminal justice experts concerned. Within hours of the Alabama gunfire Tuesday, four women were killed and four other people were wounded in a pre-dawn shooting at a home in Chicago, police said. The toll from this past weekend included two people killed and at least 30 others wounded in mass shootings in Chicago, the Texas capital of Austin, and Savannah, Georgia.

Law officers had hoped that last year's spike in homicides would subside as the nation emerges from coronavirus restrictions, but they remain higher than they were in pre-pandemic times.

“There was a hope this might simply be a statistical blip that would start to come down,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “That hasn’t happened. And that’s what really makes chiefs worry that we may be entering a new period where we will see a reversal of 20 years of declines in these crimes.”

Albertville is a tightknit community, and its people will come together to support the victims' families, city spokeswoman Robin Lathan said.

“Everyone is absolutely heartbroken and devastated,” she said. “The Mueller Company is part of the lifeblood of who we are in the city of Albertville. It’s just a devastating blow.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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Very hot and very humid conditions linger in our area for our Saturday. However, the heat and humidity start to dwindle a bit as we go into our Sunday and beyond. As a matter of fact below normal high temperatures for this time of year.
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