(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) — A man armed with a military style assault weapon fired through the window of a crowded bar early Tuesday and then shot at patrons as they rushed outside to escape the gunfire.
Police said 17 people were injured, but no one was killed.
“We believe that it was not a random act. There were people on the sidewalk where he stood for several minutes before firing,” Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a news conference Tuesday.
“We believe from what we’ve seen in the video that there was a target inside the bar,” the police chief said.
The shooting occurred at Tuscaloosa’s Copper Top Bar, a popular hangout for college students, at approximately 12:30 a.m. At least four of the injured were students, police said.
One on the wounded individuals is in very critical condition, while three are in critical condition, Anderson said.
The suspect is described as a white male between 5-foot-7 -5-foot-9 with a stocky build. He was using a military-style assault weapon, police said.
Surveillance footage of the exterior of the bar shows a man walking away with what appears to be a gun in his hand. Police are now working with federal officials to have the video of the gunman enhanced.
Authorities are investigating whether the shooting at the Copper Top Bar is related to a separate shooting at the Indian Lakes Subdivision in Northport, Ala., about 45 minutes earlier.
“Right now we are exploring that possibility,” Anderson said. “We have not made a solid connection to that shooting.”
That incident, which occurred at 11:47 p.m. involved two people who were attacked by a shooter in their home. One person was wounded in that shooting. Those inside the bar at the time of the incident told ABC 33/40 that it sounded like fireworks were going off, while a man who was shot says he quickly realized it was someone on the outside firing into the bar.
The 17 victims were being treated at DCH Regional Medical Center, hospital spokesman Brad Fisher said. Four have been admitted to the hospital.
After the shooting, police canvassed the area on foot and had a helicopter aloft to see if there was anyone wounded that had been missed, while investigators collected shell casings and submitted them to forensics, Anderson said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chandra Johnson, Deseret News
Dave Crawley, KDKA