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Article updated: 12/15/2012 7:29 PM

Alabama police kill suspects after separate shootings

Authorities stand watch over a scene Saturday where a body lies covered with a sheet on Hwy 78 in Oxford, Ala.

Authorities stand watch over a scene Saturday where a body lies covered with a sheet on Hwy 78 in Oxford, Ala.

 

Associated Press

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By Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Police in Alabama killed two suspects Saturday following separate shooting incidents 75 miles apart that left three other people dead and several injured, including two officers.

East of Birmingham, police shot and killed an assailant armed with an AK-47 assault rifle at the end of a pursuit that began with a triple killing in Cleburne County, near the Georgia state line.

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Neighbors reported hearing gunshots at a mobile home park in Heflin and summoned police around 10 a.m., Cleburne Sheriff's office Investigator Michael Gore told The Anniston Star. Authorities were in the process of removing three bodies from the mobile home Saturday night. Gore declined to comment on the identities of those victims.

Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said the attack appeared to be a case of domestic violence. He identified the victims as a woman and two children.

A police pursuit of the suspect wound into Oxford, where the suspect crashed a car near the busy interchange of Leon Smith Parkway and U.S. 78. Partridge said the suspect fired at police with the AK-47, wounding one police officer from Heflin. That officer was reported in critical condition Saturday night.

The gunman "exited the vehicle and started shooting at the officers," Partridge said. "The officers returned fire."

Authorities said the suspect then carjacked a vehicle at the intersection, though the occupants were able to escape.

Police caught up with the assailant in nearby Coldwater. As the suspect was being chased, he crashed his car into another vehicle.

Partridge said the suspect reached for the assault rifle as he exited the car. Two members of an Oxford police SWAT team fatally shot him.

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 were investigating a homicide, but she declined to comment further.

The name of the suspect was not immediately released.

In a separate incident, 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.

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

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