A Kinston, Alabama, man went on a killing rampage Tuesday afternoon (March 10) that would ultimately take him 12 miles, leave 10 people dead, and the gunman himself dead of a self-inflicted wound at his former place of employment. According to CNN, Michael McLendon shot his mother at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, killed her four dogs, set the house on fire, then jumped in his vehicle. He would subsequently kill his grandparents, an aunt and uncle, a family neighbor, a sheriff’s deputy’s wife and small child, a woman outside a gas station, and a man outside a hardware store.
As yet, there is no known motive for the slayings.
All victims have been identified by authorities but names are being withheld until family members have been notified.
Law enforcement officials in Coffee County and Geneva County in southern Alabama were spread out over at least six crime scenes as they attempted to piece together the movements of Michael McLendon Tuesday. Firefighters responded to a call to the house McLendon shared with his mother after a passerby saw the house on fire. Responders found McLendon’s mother, Lisa, shot dead inside the home. Her four dogs had also been shot.
Michael McLendon then went east into Geneva County to Samson. He would pull up and shoot his grandparents and an aunt an uncle who were sitting on the porch of their home. He then turned his attention to a house across the street, shooting and killing a deputy sheriff’s wife and her toddler.
McLendon also shot and killed another man in his family’s yard.
An Alabama state trooper caught up with Michael McLendon on Highway 52, where McLendon fired off a stream of bullets that resulted in the trooper being wounded by shattered glass.
Two other people, apparently shot at random, were killed in Samson: a woman outside of a Big-Little Store service station and a man outside of Samson Pipe and Supply, a hardware store.
McLendon made his way to Reliable Metal Products in Geneva, where he fired off a clip at police before running into the building. Police Chief Frankie Lindsey was hit by one bullet but was wearing a bulletproof vest. Shots were then heard from inside the building. After police secured the building, they found Michael McLendon dead, apparently having shot himself.
According to CNN, there are several reports of others that were wounded but the exact number and the severity of the wounds were not available. It was known, though, that another small child of the sheriff’s deputy whose wife and child had been killed had been wounded and had undergone surgery.
Colonel Christopher Murphy, head of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, told CNN that the rampage was “the worst that DPS has a memory of.”
The last time the state had seen anything like McLendon’s shooting rampage had been in 2002, when Westley Devon Harris killed six members of his 16-year-old girlfriend’s family. Harris was sentenced to death in 2005.
The worst rampage or “spree” killing in recent U.S. history occurred in April 2007 when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, at two separate locations before killing himself. Seung-Hui Cho also wounded an additional 20 people during his rampage.
The FBI differentiates between a spree or rampage shooting and mass murder by the number of locations. A mass murder is a single event where multiple people are killed, such as the incident in Killeen, Texas, at Luby’s Cafeteria in 1991, where gunman George Hennard shot and killed 24 people and wounded 20 others. A rampage killing occurs when two or more events are connected without a “cooling off” period. If a killer allows time between killings, they are then categorized as “serial.”