The victims in an early morning shooting that left one dead, three injured in Hurtsboro, Ala., and the suspect jailed have been identified by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office.
Donald Wayne Hughes , the 69-year-old owner of the City Grill Cafe, died in the 6:30 a.m. EST shooting. Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry Jr. said Hughes died of gunshot wounds and his body will be sent to the Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery, Ala., for a autopsy.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor identified the injured as John Carroll Williams, 74, Roy Donald Johnson, 70, and John William Harden, 74, all of Hurtsboro.
Taylor said deputies arrested Walter Frank Thomas, 64, without incident at his home on Goolsby Street after fleeing on foot from the popular restaurant. He is charged with murder, three counts of attempted murder and held in the Russell County Jail.
Never miss a local story.
Taylor said a man walked into the business, shouted the owner’s name, then began firing rounds from a .22 caliber long rifle. Taylor said law enforcement surrounded the house and the suspect surrendered following a conversation with Taylor on his cell phone.
Taylor did not believe the injuries sustained by the other three victims were life-threatening.
The sheriff said his office seized the weapon.
Taylor said people with mental illness may feel emboldened by heightened media attention. The suspect will likely be charged with capital murder.
“They see whatever attention the offender gets on TV, and it makes other people with mental disabilities appear to do the same thing,” he said. “I’m not giving him that gratification this morning. I’m not talking about him.”
The restaurant was opened in 1954 by the victim’s mother and has been in the family since then. It serves meals in the town of approximately 500 people Monday-Friday from 5 a.m. - 1 p.m.
One regular customer Gary Williams was feeling sad and lucky. “Normally, it would not be unusual for me to be eating there at that time but I didn’t today,” Williams said. “When my wife told me the news I could not believe it. That family has always been good people.”
“It is a sad day that we have to work this type of case. And I certainly am here for the family,” Taylor said.
Staff Writers Larry Gierer and Scott Berson contributed to this report.