Armed woman dies after being shot by Huntsville police

Armed woman dies after being shot by Huntsville police
(Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A woman has died after an officer-involved shooting at an apartment complex on Thursday morning.

She’s been identified as Crystal Danielle Ragland, 32.

Lt. Michael Johnson, public information officer with the Huntsville Police Department, says officers were called to the Stadium Apartments on Westheimer Drive off Ivy Avenue around 8:30 a.m., after getting calls about a woman who was outside waving a gun and pointing it at her neighbors.

The complex is located near Milton Frank Stadium and Brahan Spring Park.

“We know we had some very scared residents making calls to police and management. It went to the officers which led to a conversation with management and it re-confirmed what they were told over the radio. The manager stated that she had pointed this weapon at several of her neighbors,” Johnson said.

He provided more details about what happened when police got to the complex.

“When officers arrived, there was in fact, an armed female with a gun....There was a brief confrontation and shots were fired. At least one of our officers did fire,” Lt. Johnson explained.

Ragland was shot in the incident. She was taken to the hospital and later passed away.

Huntsville spent the day at the complex investigating the matter.

“Right now, we have an entire investigative unit and the CID commander out on the scene,” Lt. Johnson stated. “It’s a very large crime scene that we’re looking at. We want to make sure that we don’t miss anything so we have the general area of the entire building roped off.”

HPD officials are speaking with witnesses and responding officers. They’re also reviewing body cam video and in-car footage.

It happened outside one of the buildings on the lower level of the apartments. Evidence markers were seen on the ground.

“There’s a lot of physical evidence on the scene. It’s very cumbersome to find shell casings in grass. You have to look for any bullets in the general area. We know nobody was in the apartment that she was standing in front of. No one else was hurt,” Lt. Johnson added.

Several people who live at Stadium Apartments say Ragland suffered from mental illness. Friends say she attended Johnson High School and was an Army veteran She’s lived in the complex for several years, according to other residents.

Deseree Montgomery spent the night at the complex and heard gunfire. She spoke with the media about what she saw.

“I heard several gunshots going off, so it woke me up out of my sleep. I jumped up and ran to the bedroom window,” she stated. “I asked the police why they shot the woman and they said that the woman had a gun. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It scared the mess out of me. I still can’t believe it.”

Officials say the two officers who responded to the scene asked Ragland to drop the gun.

“In this situation, there was a verbal exchange between the officers and her and she was not heeding to the officers’ pleas. The timing of that, there’s no training in the timing. It’s just a matter of when that person decides to cooperate. In this case, she could not. That was a huge factor in why the officers fired,” Lt. Johnson explained.

HPD did not discuss Ragland’s mental health on Thursday.

“We can’t say if that was a factor today. We want to give this victim’s family some time before we talk about this individual’s background. Obviously, someone’s background has to come into play. It can’t be avoided but we’re not going to talk about that today,” Johnson said.

There will be a shooting incident review board into the matter in the coming weeks and the officers have been placed on administrative duty for the time being, all of which is standard procedure.

Incident review boards include HPD’s top officials, members of the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, Huntsville City Legal, and members from the Huntsville Citizen Advisory Council. Their findings will be released to the public.

“We take these very seriously. We want everyone to think this is a safe area to give a call anytime someone has a weapon like this. We’re very thankful no one else was hurt,” Lt. Johnson added.

When asked about body camera and dash cam footage, the city attorney’s office responded: “Since that is now going to be an open and ongoing investigation, no body/dash cam would be available for release. Investigative materials still remain non-public.”

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