New developments after elderly woman killed by stray bullet on Christmas
DALLAS CO., AL (WSFA) - The investigation into the Christmas slaying of a Dallas County woman continues to take shape as the victim's family prepares to say their final goodbyes over the holidays.
Juanita Tripp, a well-known and beloved member of the community, was celebrating Christmas with loved ones when she struck and killed by a stray bullet.
Several of her family members were also injured in the shooting.
Now, authorities are revealing where things stand in the search for the gunman, or gunmen, and discuss ramped up enforcement plans as New Year's approaches.
Deputies were called to the 800 block of Laredo Court in the Pine Glen Estates (also known as Craig Field) located off of Highway 80 East on Dec. 25, 2016 around 6 p.m. in reference to gunshots being fired.
Tripp, 73, had family members visiting and as she was walking them to the door, they heard shots ring out.
"They weren't sure they were gunshots at first due to all of the firework activity this time of the year," explained Captain Mike Granthum, who heads up the Criminal Investigations Division in the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.
Tripp's relatives fell to the ground in an effort to protect themselves, but she was struck in the upper leg.
The bullet went through her glass storm door, through her thigh and into a TV stand in the hallway.
Tripp's daughter, Felicia, was also grazed by a bullet. She is a nurse and immediately started to provide aid to her mother.
"They were shooting at someone else. My mom and my family weren't the targets but inadvertently, my mom was hit with one of the bullets. She bled out because it was a main artery. My younger sister's arm was grazed and a bullet lodged in her bra, which they took out at the hospital," said Cassandra Brooks, the victim's daughter.
Another relative was also injured by flying glass from the shattered storm door, which left her with cuts on her legs.
"It could have been worse. It could have been three victims instead of one," Brooks said. "The last words my mother spoke were, 'I'm shot! I'm shot!'"
Tripp was rushed to the emergency room in police cruisers because her wounds were so severe. Officers did not wait for an ambulance. At the hospital, she succumbed to her injuries.
The victims did not see who was shooting in the area. They only heard the gunfire.
The Dallas County Sheriff's Department is working to track down who fired the deadly shots.
Some video has been retrieved and sent to the Department of Forensic Sciences for enhancement and bullet fragments recovered from Tripp's home have also been submitted for analysis.
"We have been able to gather some evidence in the case that's being sent off to see if we might be able to learn more. People have come in telling us some information. We have some information. We're following up on leads. We're conducting interviews and we hope, shortly, we can bring closure to the family," Cpt. Granthum said. "This is just senseless. Christmas will never be the same for this family again. We had a 14-year-old who was there and witnessed their grandmother pass away. Nobody should have to do that during Christmas. It's just not fair the family. We have assigned more investigators to this case."
Instead of celebrating the rest of the holiday season, Juanita Tripp's family is preparing to lay her to rest. Her funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Paul Methodist Church on Choctaw Avenue in Selma.
"She loved her family. She loved life and she loved God," her daughter said. "I truly believe in my heart that the people who are responsible will go to jail and get what's coming to them. We're getting an outcry from the community, from those who loved my mom and said she was the greatest person and didn't deserve this. If you feel that way, the best way you can celebrate my mom's legacy is if you know something, come forward. Tell the truth."
Meanwhile, increased patrols will continue in the area over New Year's.
"There will not be a deputy in Dallas County who is not on payroll that night. The Dallas County Commission has stepped up and offered us some revenue to take care of that and help out the sheriff's office and they've been more than gracious. Every deputy and investigator we have will be working," Cpt. Granthum said.
This is the first homicide in Dallas County in 2016.
"This is our first murder, but it is one murder too many and we're doing all of our best to prevent anything else," Granthum added.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the sheriff's department at 334-874-2530 or Selma/Dallas County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-44CRIME. You may be eligible for a reward.
Pine Glen Estates has been a hot spot when it comes to violence and crime. Last year, one of Juanita Tripp's neighbors was fatally shot during a home invasion. She is survived by her loving children, grandchildren and her great grandchildren.
"I'm embarrassed to say this is my hometown because this violence is ridiculous. It's all this black on black crime. You're killing each other. You're destroying your community," Cassandra Brooks said. "It's my mom this time, but next time, there's going to be others. The violence hasn't stopped so when does it stop? Everyone has the responsibility to take care of their family, their homes, and their community. It all starts with you."
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