Rainbow City AL Jan 19 2017 A man held law enforcement officials at bay for more than an hour in the parking lot of a Publix Supermarket this morning in Rainbow City.
The man was peacefully taken into custody shortly after 11 a.m. No one was injured.
The incident began at the store, situated at the corner of Alabama 77 and U.S. 411, around 9:54 a.m. Lauren Campbell, a shopper, was going out to her car in the parking lot, when she heard the man screaming, "Call the police!" He then fired two gun blasts into the air from a double-barreled shotgun, Rainbow City Police Chief Jonathon Horton said.
Police were on the scene within minutes to cordon off the area, one of the busiest intersections in Etowah County. The man, who appeared to be in his thirties or forties, stood in the middle of the parking lot near his car, a red four-door. He apparently took the rifle from the trunk.
For the next hour, he stayed in the same position as police in tactical gear and officers with weapons surrounded him at a safe distance. A negotiator was dispatched to begin speaking with him.
Horton said the man appeared to have "mental issues" and was "hearing voices." It was a "very dangerous situation," he said.
"He wasn't threatening anyone, except himself," Horton said. "He came here with the intention to end his life. Whether he intended to kill himself, or maybe have it be a 'suicide by cop' situation, we're not sure. We did find a note in his car."
At times, the man paced the parking lot. At other times, he stood with the rifle pointed in the air or on the ground. About 30 minutes into the standoff, he could be heard shouting loudly, "Just do it!"
Campbell said she continued to stay in her vehicle during the standoff, laying out of sight, until a police officer came and escorted her into the store.
"I've never been so scared in my whole life," she said, in tears, minutes after the situation was resolved. "All I could do was lay flat. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
Several schools in the area, along with doctors' offices, were placed on lockdown while the situation was ongoing. The standoff also drew the curious, who stood in a parking lot across Alabama 77 taking pictures.
Around 11 a.m., officers told onlookers and the media to move across the highway. Shortly after the man gave himself up to authorities. He was immediately taken to a local hospital, Horton said.
Members of Gadsden, Rainbow City, Attalla and Southside police took part in the event, along with members of the Etowah County Joint Special Operations Group, and ALEA, Sheriff Todd Entrekin said.
"It's a good day," Entrekin said. "Everybody's going home."