SAMSON, ALABAMA // A gunman killed at least nine people on a rampage across two Alabama counties, burning down his mother's home, killing members of his own family on their porch and shooting apparent strangers as he drove by, authorities said. He then fatally shot himself. Police were investigating shootings yesterday in at least four different locations in three neighbouring communities, all of which were believed to be the work of a single gunman named as Michael McLendon.
Investigators declined to comment on a motive for the shootings, in which at least four other people were injured, including a child. The afternoon of bloodshed began when McLendon burnt down the house in Kinston where he lived with his mother, Lisa McLendon, according to the Coffee County coroner Robert Preachers. Officials located Lisa McLendon's body inside the house, but they had not been able to get inside the still-burning house to determine a cause of death or whether she was a 10th victim of her son's killing spree. He then headed about 19km south-east to Samson, in Geneva County, where he shot and killed five people - four adults and a child - at a home. He killed one person each in two other homes.
The identities of all the victims were unknown, but Mr Preachers said they included other members of the shooter's family. "He started in his mother's house," Mr Preachers said. "Then he went to Samson and he killed his granny and granddaddy and aunt and uncle. He cleaned his family out. We don't know what triggered it." McLendon also shot at a state trooper's car, striking the vehicle seven times and wounding the trooper with broken glass. He then killed someone at a supply store, and another person at a service station.
Police pursued McLendon to a factory where he worked just north of Geneva, about a dozen miles (19 kilometres) south-east of Samson, where he fired an estimated 30 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon, the Alabama safety department said. One of the bullets hit Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey, who was saved by his bullet proof vest. McLendon then went inside the plant and shot himself, according to the safety department's statement.
State Representative Warren Beck, a Republican whose district includes Geneva, said: "My secretary heard gunfire everywhere. This is one of the most tragic events ever in Geneva County." *AP