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Alabama police catch suspect in bar shooting that left 11 injured

 

Alabama police say the suspect in Tuesday’s early-morning shooting that injured 11, one critically, at a Tuscaloosa bar turned himself turned himself in to authorities.

"He went to a business in Jasper, and told the individuals at that business who he was and that he was sought here in connection with the shooting," Steven Anderson, the police chief in Tuscaloosa, said at a press conference. Police in Jasper were notified and contacted authorities in Tuscaloosa.

The suspect was identified as Nathan Van Wilkins, who has been charged with one count of attempted murder but they expect to add 16 more counts of the same charge.

Wilkins is being held on $100,000 bond, but police say it will be increased to $1.7 million once all the counts are added.

Police believe the rampage was connected to a shooting at a home about 45 minutes earlier. They are investigating whether both evolved from a dispute between rival motorcycle gangs.

Investigators believed the suspect, who allegedly used a military-style assault rifle, was targeting an individual inside the Copper Top Bar.

"When he first walked up and there were people outside on the sidewalk, he stood for several minutes watching and observing before he fired a shot," Anderson said.

Witnesses at the bar described a bloody and chaotic scene, with glass and debris flying around the nightclub.  Outside the bar Tuesday, pools of blood were still visible and a trail of bloody footprints could be seen on the sidewalk for about two blocks leading away from the nightclub.

Rachel Studdard was sitting on a patio with a group of friends, enjoying 50-cent draft beer when the shooting started.

"We heard firecracker sounds. All of a sudden somebody was like, 'Is that gunfire?'" said Studdard, who recently graduated a two-year college and plans to attend the university in the fall. "They shot in one area and then they started shooting directly where we were."

A bullet hit Studdard's toe, and debris hit her in the side and in the leg. Her foot throbbed Tuesday, she said, and she was using crutches to walk. She still had dried blood on her leg.

The shots fired so quickly it sounded like automatic gunfire, she said.

"There were sparks coming off the ground and then I felt a sting and I knew I'd been hit," she said.

Police said 11 people were hit by gunfire and 17 people were taking to the hospital. Most of the injured were hit by bullet fragments or debris, said Brad Fisher, a spokesman at DCH Regional Medical Center.

Two people were in intensive care, one in critical condition and the other in serious condition, Fisher said. Three people were in fair condition and the others were treated and released.

At least three injured were University of Alabama students.

Elizabeth Walters was inside the Copper Top when the shooting started.

"It sounded like it would never end," Walters said. "There was a lull and then it started up again."
After the shooting ended, the music in the bar continued to play for several minutes until someone turned it off.

The gunman walked away, down the same street he walked up to get to the bar, Anderson said.

Police were also investigating whether the bar rampage was connected to a shooting about 45 minutes earlier at a home a couple of miles away. One person was wounded in that shooting.

At the home of the earlier shooting, yellow police tape surrounded the single-level, brown ranch-style house. The front window was broken out and three police cars were parked outside.

Fox News' Garrett Tenney and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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