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Ala. Police Officer Killed, Another Wounded in Ambush

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March 29, 2023 Huntsville Police Officer Garrett Crumby was fatally shot and Officer Albert Morin was wounded when they were ambushed by an armed suspect while responding to a shooting call.

By Carol Robinson Source al.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Law enforcement officers and first responders arrive at Huntsville Hospital after two Huntsville, AL, police officers and a civilian were shot Tuesday.
Law enforcement officers and first responders arrive at Huntsville Hospital after two Huntsville, AL, police officers and a civilian were shot Tuesday.

One of two Alabama police officers shot when they responded to a shooting call at a Huntsville apartment complex has died.

“This is a devastating loss for our department, the Huntsville community and the State of Alabama, HPD Chief Kirk Giles said. “We send our heartfelt condolences to the officer’s family as they mourn their loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“As we grieve with our fallen officer’s family, we have another officer fighting for his life,’’ the chief said. “Please keep all our officers and the entire department in your prayers.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall identified the slain policeman as Officer Garrett Crumby. The wounded officer has been identified as Officer Albert Morin.

“Tonight, our State grieves the death of another member of the law enforcement community—one who, when called upon, ran toward danger in aide of a female victim,” said Marshall said. “Huntsville Police Officer Garrett Crumby and fellow Officer Albert Morin were responding to an emergency domestic violence call for service when they were ambushed by an armed suspect.”

Juan Robert Laws, 24, was booked into the Madison County Jail just before 11 p.m. on a charge of capital murder of a law enforcement officer. That charge was obtained by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is leading the probe into the deadly shooting.

Laws remains held without bond.

Alabama court records show he pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge from 2022 of carrying a pistol without a license. That weapon was to be forfeited as part of the agreement with the state, according to the sentencing order.

Laws also was charged in 2022 with two counts of second-degree assault on two people. Those cases were ordered last month to go to a grand jury for indictment consideration after he waived his preliminary hearing.

Crumby joined the Huntsville Police Department in 2020. He previously worked for the Tuscaloosa Police Department from 2013 until he left for Huntsville.

Just last year, Crumby was one of several officers praised for helping a man get home from the grocery store on a rainy night. Crumby gave the man a ride.

“It was dark. He was going to be walking down a heavily travelled road at night in inclement weather. So, it just made more sense to me to just give him a ride,” Crumby told WHNT News 19.

Crumby is the first police officer in Alabama to die in the line of duty this year, but the third to be shot in the line of duty.

“Our part of the country has been reminded again this week of the pure heroism of those who make up the thin blue line — the dividing line, at times, between life and death for the citizens that they swear an oath to protect,’’ Marshall said. “These two law enforcement officers responded to a domestic violence call this evening, knowing full well that they would be placing their lives on the line in defense of their fellow man. We must never take their service and sacrifice for granted.”

The last Huntsville police officer killed in the line of duty was Billy Fred Clardy III. He died Dec. 6, 2019. Clardy and several other police officers were conducting a drug operation that night at a home on Levert Street in northeast Huntsville.

Deputy Chief Michael Johnson said Huntsville police received a call around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday of shots fired at an apartment complex on the 4600 block of Governors House Drive.

The caller told authorities that she had been shot. Police found her when they arrived at the scene and she was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Johnson said.

“During the course of the initial part of the call, the officers were also shot by an offender,” Johnson said earlier.

“This is a painful night for the City of Huntsville and for our police family,” Mayor Tommy Battle said. “We are heartbroken. Words cannot express our loss. We have been overwhelmed by the show of love and support from our community, and we stand united with our police officers and their families in this tragic moment.”

Crumby’s body will be transported by Madison County Coroner Dr. Tyler Berryhill on Tuesday night to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Huntsville. An autopsy will be performed Wednesday morning.

A video widely circulated on social media and shared nearly 30,000 times, appears to show paramedics performing life-saving measures on one of the officers and rendering medical aid to the other wounded officer outside an apartment building.

The video, which has since been taken down from Facebook, shows officers with long guns drawn as they swarm the building. AL.com is not publishing the graphic footage.

Residents of the complex can be heard on the footage telling officers that a woman and children were still inside the apartment.

Officers then run up to the apartment with guns drawn at the second-story window, the video shows. Officers are seen on the footage walking away with one of the children wrapped in a blanket, while a woman reaches down from the window and puts a second child in an officer’s hands.

The video also shows several residents running from the building.

In a news release, police officials thanked the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Madison Police Department “for assistance answering calls in the City of Huntsville while HPD officers grieve this tragic loss.”

The department has requested the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) lead the investigation.

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