Witness, family of victim speak about Montgomery officer-involved shooting
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Family members of the Montgomery man who was killed in an officer-involved shooting Thursday have identified him as 59-year-old Gregory Gunn.
According to Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley, the shooting happened around 3:20 a.m. in the 3200 block of McElvy Street, which is in the Mobile Heights neighborhood. This is the first fatal police shooting in Montgomery in five years.
Finley said the officer was on routine patrol when he noticed what he believed to be a suspicious man walking down the street.
"At this point in time what we have is we had a suspicious person, and the officer engaged that individual. There was a slight struggle that continued for about a block or so at which time the officer fired and shot and killed the suspect," Finley said.
The investigation was turned over to the State Bureau of Investigations, which is common practice when an officer is involved in a shooting. The investigation could take months.
When asked if the man was armed, Finley said "there was some indication of some instrument." He later called it a stick, pole and painting pole.
Finley says the officer, who was identified as a young officer with under four years with the department, has been placed on administrative leave. The police chief said he doesn't know if the officer was injured. The officer will be "isolated" and interviewed.
The findings of the investigation will be turned over to the District Attorney's office. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey released the following statement:
I assure our community that once the investigation into this matter has concluded that the Montgomery District Attorney's Office will review all the evidence in a thorough manner and will conduct any additional investigation if it is deemed appropriate or necessary. I also assure our community that once this investigation is concluded and I am satisfied that all evidence has been collected and reviewed that this case will be heard by a Montgomery County Grand Jury.
I encourage anyone with information regarding this incident to contact ALEA at (800) 392-8011 or the Montgomery County District Attorney's Investigation Unit at (334)-832-1642.
Gunn lived in the community, and the initial encounter was about a block or so from where he lived.
"Our condolences go out to the family. We did talk to the family. We're going to be professional. We're gonna give them support as well. They are in this time mourning the loss of their loved one," Finley said.
For most of the day Thursday, family and friends gathered near the scene. They were all in shock and disbelief, wondering how this could happen and why.
According to family, Gunn was shot five times and died in the front yard of 3237 McElvey St.
"This was a wrong and senseless death by the Montgomery Police Department. My brother was not a violent person and never was," said Kenneth Gunn who was the brother of the victim.
Kenneth Gunn said his brother had a few misdemeanors on his record but nothing major. Gunn added his brother cut people's yards and worked at the Foodland grocery store on the Southern Boulevard. Gregory Gunn was apparently well known and well liked in the neighborhood.
Kenneth Gunn said his brother usually got off work at 10:30 or 11 p.m. After work he would usually go to his girlfriend's house. He said his brother had just left his girlfriend's home and was walking to his mom's house two blocks away at the time of the shooting.
Scott Muhammad was staying at a friend's house and heard the commotion.
"Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom," Muhammad said.
Muhammad says he saw the officer fire the shots. He quickly used his phone to record the aftermath on video. The video shows flashing blue lights and officers walking around. Muhammad thought it was "odd" the officer allegedly involved did not try to render immediate aid to Gunn but instead got on his police radio.
"He was on the ground already. He unloaded on him. Everybody around here knows each other. [Gunn] was coming from his girlfriend's house two blocks away and walking to his mom's house and was shot to death," Muhammad said.
Kenneth Gunn said he believes his brother was singled out.
"From my experience of this neighborhood. It's been police harassment -- people always on guard for the police. They don't feel safe, and he was singled out. Not because he was doing anything wrong, because he was black. He was black at three in the morning," Kenneth Gunn said.
Kenneth Gunn also said he believes police are using the "stick" as a cover up. He said his brother was being chased by the officer, and the tool was on a neighbor's porch.
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