Originally created 10/24/06

Across the Southeast



Police officer killed, second is wounded

FAIRFIELD, ALA. - A police officer was fatally shot in a Birmingham suburb on Monday and a backup officer was wounded, sparking a manhunt and prompting school lockdowns, authorities said.

More than 150 police officers blocked roads in Fairfield and went door to door with guns drawn searching for two men, authorities said.

"A very cold-blooded murderer, a thug, if you will, is on the streets," Fairfield Mayor Michael Johnson told reporters. He urged the assailants to turn themselves in.

Officer Mary Smith, 48, was responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle at 10:15 a.m. when she was shot as she stepped from her patrol car, authorities said. Officer Erick Burpo, who arrived on the scene a few seconds later, was shot in the leg.

Police Chief Pat Mardis told The Birmingham News that Officer Smith was able to use her radio to call in part of a license plate number and that officers were searching for a vehicle described as a beige Ford pickup.

Officials locked down a half-dozen schools in the area during the manhunt.

Killing a last-second decision, sailor says

NORFOLK, VA. - Petty Officer 3rd Class Cooper Jackson looked at the handcuff keys in one hand and the knife in his other, the items symbolizing his two options as he pressed his knee into the back of the man face down on the ground before him.

The sailor could let the handcuffed man go - and wind up facing charges of impersonating a federal agent and kidnapping if the man testified against him, or he could kill Marine Cpl. Justin L. Huff and perhaps get away with his crimes.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jackson made his decision "seconds before I took his life, sir" he told a Navy judge during his court-martial Monday at Norfolk Naval Station after he pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and other charges in an agreement to avoid the death penalty.

Crime spree suspect linked to homicides

CUMBERLAND GAP, TENN. - Tennessee authorities said Monday that the suspect in a Southern crime spree was the assailant who killed two liquor store employees during an armed robbery.

The Tennessee case is among a series of crimes tied to William Tom Ashby during a weeklong string of violence that left at least four people dead and another seriously wounded. Mr. Ashby, 37, of Savannah, Ga., killed himself during an Oct. 2 standoff with Florida officers.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials said shoe prints found at the Tunnel Two Package store in Cumberland Gap where Ralph Hopper and Julie Maiden were killed last month match Mr. Ashby's.

Grandfather charged in Amber Alert case

COLUMBIA - The 54-year-old grandfather of two children found safe after police issued an Amber Alert last weekend has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Investigators say Reddie Hopkins Ramey Sr., of Columbia, had been drinking alcohol Saturday night when a family friend came to his apartment to get the children - an 8-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister - to spend the night at another home.

When another adult in Mr. Ramey's home near Columbia's Five Points area woke up at about 10 p.m., she discovered the children were gone.

Police issued an Amber Alert on the missing children Sunday morning and the children were found safe about 2 p.m. Sunday.

- Edited from wire reports