A 22-year old man wanted on cruelty to animals and other charges was shot to death early Saturday by three Lee County Sheriff Deputies after pointing a pistol at the deputies, officials said.
The man was identified as Johnathan Stearns of Cusseta, Ala., officials said in a statement from the sheriff’s office. Stearns was taken to The Medical Center in Columbus after the 6:57 a.m. CDT shooting on Lee Road 279. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 8:20 CDT.
Lee County Coroner Bill Harris referred all questions about the death to the sheriff’s office. Stearns’ body has been sent to the Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for an autopsy.
A probe of the shooting has been turned over to Alabama Bureau of Investigation.
In a statement, officials said an unidentified caller telephoned deputies and said Stearns was at the residence. He was armed and had been drinking.
The caller also stated the door would be unlocked when deputies arrive. Deputies entered the home and found a man lying on a couch with a pistol in his hand. Deputies ordered the man to drop the weapon as he raised the muzzle. “All three deputies fired at the man, striking him multiple times in the chest and legs,” according to the statement.
Stearns was wanted for failing to appear on two counts of cruelty to animals, one count of criminal mischief third degree and one count of criminal trespass second degree.
The man’s father and stepmother were inside the home during the shooting but weren’t involved in the encounter. They were uninjured.
More than seven hours before the shooting, the sheriff’s office received a call from a person who identified himself as Stearns. He claimed that he wanted to turn himself in on outstanding warrants and would be waiting at a vacant lot on Lee Road 279.
Deputies went to the location in the Beulah community but no one was located.
The sheriff’s office didn’t return a call seeking a comment on the shooting.