‘Very surreal’ Witnesses describe events that led to Sheffield officer’s shooting death

Shoals

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – Last week, two people were killed in a string of shooting incidents, including Sheffield Police Sergeant Nick Risner. The suspect and a second officer were also injured.

News 19 is working to learn more about what happened that fateful day.

News 19 spoke with four different people Monday, two of whom saw a portion of the chase in Sheffield, while two others were at the Walmart next door to Southgate Mall when the shootout unfolded. While most didn’t feel comfortable going on camera, one agreed to share her experience.

“It was hard to register exactly what was happening,” said Sherry Carlson. “People say a movie… it was very surreal.” She is one of several witnesses who heard the shots less than a hundred yards away.

It all started on Avalon Ave. in Muscle Shoals around 1:45 Friday afternoon. Police say the suspect Brian Lansing Martin shot passenger William Clare Mealback Jr. and pushed his body out of the vehicle.

Then a search ensued. A tip to 911 reported the vehicle was involved in a hit-and-run on Woodward Ave. in Muscle Shoals. Sheffield police then spotted the vehicle in their city and a chase began.

News 19 spoke with a man and woman who were in their car when they saw the pursuit unfold. They described the vehicles going around and through traffic, which was stopped at a red light.

Martin then led police from Sheffield back to Muscle Shoals and the chase ended behind Southgate Mall. At this point, Carson was outside Walmart’s Garden Center, merely yards away.

“I could hear the sirens,” she said. “I saw them all coming over here so I just turned to them and wondered what could possibly be going on at the old mall… Then all of a sudden, the gunfire.” After the shots, Carson said she heard a clicking sound.

News 19 spoke with a man who just left Walmart when he heard the shots. He said, he got scared and ran to his car.

Carson says she froze at first, then headed toward the front doors of Walmart.

“A young man and a young lady from inside the store came to me and told me that they were locking down and they wanted me to come inside,” Carson said then the Walmart went on lockdown.

News 19 now knows the shots were exchanged around 2:25 p.m. Sgt. Nick Risner, Lt. Max Dotson, and Brian Martin were all shot. Risner died the following day, on Saturday.

News 19 has confirmed the funeral arrangements for Sgt. Risner. A public service will be held from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Faith Church in Florence, located at 3601 Florence Blvd. on Friday, October 8.

GoFundMe has been set up for Risner’s family. As of Tuesday afternoon, over $23,000 had been raised compared to a $5,000 goal.

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