Suspect in Tuscaloosa officer-involved shooting identified
Man is accused of fleeing police, pointing loaded rifle at officers
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A man shot by police officers last week in Tuscaloosa during an incident at Bent Tree Apartments has been identified.
29-year-old William Baxter Gilstrap has been charged with attempting to elude police and discharging a firearm into an unoccupied building. Gilstrap is originally from South Carolina, but police say he recently moved to the Tuscaloosa area.
Capt. Jack Kennedy with the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit said things started around 2 a.m. on November 17, 2021, when officers got a call from employees of Harry’s Bar on Hargrove Road about an unruly patron. Officers said there were reports the man was drinking.
Officers were told the man drove away from the bar recklessly. That’s when officers tried to make a traffic stop. Officers said the man would not stop and he drove to Bent Tree and entered an apartment.
Officers said they attempted to make contact with the man at the door of the apartment. Investigators said the man lives there.
Officers said at one point the man’s two roommates left the apartment and told officers the suspect was inside and armed with an AR-15 rifle and a pistol.
The officers said they continued to try and make contact. At one point officers said they heard two gunshots inside the apartment and immediately set up a perimeter around the area.
Investigators said the man opened the door and aimed a loaded rifle at an officer. Multiple officers opened fire and shot the man.
The man was taken to a hospital for treatment. Police have been investigating since then while Gilstrap received medical treatment.
TPD Chief Brent Blankley said no officer wants to shoot anyone. He said it’s a difficult situation when an officer has to make that decision. At this time at least eight officers, who were on the scene, are on leave so that they can get mental health help and get what they need in order to come back on the job.
Again, no officers were physically hurt. Chief said he is very thankful for that.
Chief also said when officers realized there was a threat they evacuated as many people as they could from the complex.
The Violent Crimes Unit has assumed the investigation with investigators and supervisors not affiliated with TPD.
Police say at the conclusion of their investigation, the case will be presented to a grand jury and more charges may be forthcoming.
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