Dozens of gunshots were fired in downtown Birmingham Wednesday evening, severely injuring a police officer and killing a man suspected of robbing a downtown supermarket.
It all began about 6:30 p.m. when North Precinct officers were dispatched to a robbery in progress at the Family Supermarket, a mom-n-pop store on 23rd Street North.
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said as officers arrived, they saw the suspect leaving the store. They encountered and attempted to stop him. The suspect then pulled out a handgun and opened fire.
Officer Cullen Stafford was shot multiple times.
Fellow officers loaded him into a police cruiser and rushed him to UAB Hospital’s Trauma Center. Stafford, shot between five to seven times, was out of surgery by 10 p.m. and police said his prognosis is good.
"We often talk about how our officers put their lives on the line every day for our safety,'' said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Tonight is proof of the courage, valor and strength it takes to wear that badge. Officer Stafford, your city stands with you.”
Multiple officers responded to Stafford’s call for help and, once they arrived, the suspect continued shooting at them. Multiple rounds were fired at the suspect and he was killed. His name has not yet been released.
Smith said the suspect fired from multiple locations, but the final burst of gunfire took place near a parking deck in the 500 block of 25th Street. He died in bushes close to the deck.
Authorities estimate between 50 to 100 rounds were fired in what has been described as a running gun battle, and an ambush.
There are reports that the suspect was firing from the parking deck before jumping to the bushes and continuing to fire, where he was ultimately killed. Police have not confirmed that account. At least one person was doing a Facebook live video from within the store, and then after exiting the store. That video recorded dozens of shots fired.