Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Alabama gunman 'had a hit list'


Locals from the community have been talking about the incident

A man who killed 10 people in a series of shootings in the US state of Alabama, before killing himself, had drawn up a "hit list", officials say.

Investigators discovered the list while searching the gunman's home.

Michael McLendon, 28, burned down his house, before firing on homes, shops and vehicles in the towns of Samson and Geneva near the Florida border.

It also emerged that McLendon had once joined a police academy, but left after only a week.

McLendon's victims included several members of his family and the wife and daughter of a local police officer.

"We found a list of people he worked with, people who had done him wrong," said Coffee County District Attorney Gary McAliley.

Map of Alabama

The list included the names of a number of McLendon's former employers, including a sausage factory at which he had recently left his job.

The bloodshed began when McLendon shot his mother in the house where the two of them lived in Kinston, near Samson.

He then placed his mother's body on a couch and set the house on fire.

McLendon also shot four dogs at the house, officials said.


Next he headed to a house in Samson where he shot and killed his uncle and two cousins as well as the wife and 18-month-old daughter of Josh Myers, a local sheriff's deputy, who happened to be visiting the house.

Burned out home of Lisa McLendon
Police say McLendon set his mother's house on fire after killing her

Deputy Myers's other daughter, aged fourth months, was injured in the incident and was due to undergo treatment in a local hospital for a wound to the leg caused by a bullet or shrapnel.

"I cried so much yesterday, I don't have a tear left in me," said Mr Myers.

"I feel like I should be able to walk in the house and my wife would be there, my baby girl climbing on me."

After leaving his relatives' home, McLendon moved to a neighbouring home, where he shot dead his 74-year-old grandmother, according to officials.

"He cleaned his family out," said Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers.

He then drove around Samson, killing two pedestrians and one man driving a pick-up truck.

"He just cruised his automobile through Samson and was spraying the people with semi-automatic weapons [fire] at random," Reverend Mike Shirah, of Geneva's Maple Baptist Church, told the BBC.

Samson Mayor Clay King said the town had opened a crisis centre at a local church.

"I've lived here 44 years and never, never dreamed of this happening," Mr King told AP.

From Samson, McLendon drove 19km (12 miles) east to Geneva. At one point, officers rammed his car and gunfire was exchanged.

Dec 2008: A gunman dressed as Santa Claus kills nine people and himself on Christmas Eve in LA
Sept 2008: Six people die in a series of shootings in the north-west of Washington state
June 2008: A worker at a plastics plant in Kentucky kills five people and wounds one other before killing himself
Feb 2008: Five people die and 18 are wounded after a man opens fire at Northern Illinois University
Dec 2007: A gunman kills eight people and wounds five at a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska, before killing himself
Apr 2007: 32 people and the gunman die at the Virginia Tech campus

Geneva police chief Frankie Lindsay says he was saved by his bullet-proof vest when McLendon shot at his patrol with an automatic weapon.

"About 11 rounds hit my vehicle," he told the BBC. "Some of the shrapnel from the bullets did enter my shoulder."

He fired a total of 30 rounds during the exchange with police, officials say.

One of the officers involved in the shootout was Deputy Myers, who at the time was unaware that his wife and daughter had already been killed by the gunman.

McLendon then went inside a metal products plant where he had once worked, and shot himself.

Police said he had been forced to resign from the plant in 2003, but would not say why.

Later the same year he joined a police academy but lasted only a week before quitting, officials said.

Although the discovery of McLendon's "hit list" could shed light on his motives, police say they still do not know what triggered the shooting spree. They are being assisted in their investigation by the FBI.

The scale of the killings is unprecedented in the state's history.

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