Suspect in fatal Southern Union shooting heads to court

Thomas May being arrested as WSFA 12 News cameras roll.
Thomas May being arrested as WSFA 12 News cameras roll.
Thomas May looks towards the WSFA 12 News crew as he's being arrested .
Thomas May looks towards the WSFA 12 News crew as he's being arrested .
Police search the white Jeep that belongs to May.
Police search the white Jeep that belongs to May.

OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - The suspect in Wednesday's fatal shooting on the campus of Southern Union Community State College will face a judge Thursday afternoon. The Lee County Clerk confirms Thomas Franklin May III, 34, will make an initial court appearance at 2:30pm.

May faces one count of capital murder and two counts of attempted murder. More charges could be coming. The intended target, according to the Opelika Police Department, was May's wife. The other victims were all relatives. The Southern Union campus was not a target of the shootings.

May faces a Capital Murder charge for the death of 62-year-old Brenda Marshall Watson of Opelika. He faces Attempted Murder charges for the shooting of Bethany Lynn May, 36, and Maude Ethel Marshall, 93, both of Opelika. He also faces an Attempted Murder charge for Mays' 4-year-old child who was injured by flying glass from the van at the time of shooting and charges for Shooting in to an Occupied Vehicle.

Bethany Lynn May is the wife of the suspect, Thomas May. Brenda Marshall Watson is the mother of Bethany, Maude is the mother of Brenda. There were four generations of one family in the van at the time of the shooting.

A protective restraining order was filed against the suspect on behalf of his wife, Bethany, Monday, April 4.


May, whom police had been searching for for approximately 3 hours apparently returned to the community college's campus. It was only after he approached WSFA 12 News reporter Cody Holyoke and calmly told him "I'm the guy you're looking for," that an arrest was made.

Holyoke, who had just arrived on the scene at Southern Union, was preparing his evening report with other members of WSFA 12 News's on-site crew when May approached him. Holyoke, not yet familiar with the suspect's mug shot, said May asked him if he'd spoken with Capt. Allan Elkins of the Opelika Police Department yet.

Holyoke, believing the man to be a fellow member of the media, told him he hadn't spoken with Elkins yet and then inquired which news organization the man was with. May then dropped a bombshell, calmly saying "I'm the guy you're looking for."

WSFA 12 News' crew made a decision to immediately leave the area where May was standing. They drove to a nearby parking lot and called 911.

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Opelika police arrived a short time later and took the man into custody. May was calm during the entire arrest process. He sat nearly motionless in the backseat of a patrol car, head reclined, as authorities prepared transport to the police station. A search of May's white Jeep, parked nearby, was also made. Results on any evidence were not immediately known.

May is the prime suspect in the fatal shooting Wednesday that left one person dead and three others injured.

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