Albertville Mueller plant shooting: two fatalities, two injuries, shooter killed
Two people were killed and two others were injured in an early morning shooting at the Mueller fire hydrant factory in Albertville, shocking the northeast Alabama city.
At 2:30 a.m., an employee fired at coworkers Mueller’s plant, which is located in an industrial park area between Boaz and Albertville and is home to several businesses.
According to police chief Jamie Smith, the gunman fled the plant in a vehicle.
“The shooter and his vehicle were located shortly before 6 a.m. this morning in the Carlisle Street area of Guntersville,” Smith said. “The individual died as a result of what appears to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There is no risk to the general public. Guntersville Police are on the scene.”
The two injured were transported to Marshall Medical Center South. Their conditions were unknown at the time. Detectives are still on the scene, attempting to piece together the circumstances surrounding the three fatalities.
“It is with great sadness that I inform you of an early morning shooting,” Smith said in a press release. “For an unknown reason, an industry employee began firing a weapon at coworkers.”
Officials have not yet released the identities of the victims or the gunman.
Ann Walters of Boaz stood across the street from the plant this morning, having just learned her 27-year-old grandson, Michael Lee Dobbins, was among those killed.
Dobbins had been employed by Mueller for approximately ten months and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work in a high-paying position after several years.
“He was in the process of purchasing a home, and he desired to purchase a car for his girlfriend,” Walters explained. “Everyone will tell you he was a gentleman. He was kind to everyone and prioritized his family.”
According to Walters, Dobbins has a two-year-old daughter named Daisy.
Walters expressed outrage that the family was unaware of the shooting until Dobbins failed to return home from work. “We couldn’t locate him,” she explained. “I’m in pain at the moment.”
Allen Horton Jr. and his family waited outside the plant this morning for news on his uncle, David Horton.
Allen, a Gadsden resident, arrived immediately upon learning of his uncle’s death.
“I’m not sure how to take it,” he explained. “I’m still reeling. It could have occurred in any location. However, we have just learned that the shooter killed himself. I despise how it transpired. However, I despise it for my family.”
According to public records and social media posts, David Horton was 44 years old and appeared to be married with multiple children.
Employees were notified this morning and instructed not to report to work until further notice, according to one family member.
As news of the shooting spread, one man arrived at the plant from North Carolina to perform scheduled maintenance, unaware of what had occurred. John McFalls stated that he spent five days at the plant last week and observed nothing unusual.
“Everyone was friendly here,” he stated. “I never had any inkling that anything was out of the ordinary. Radios are on, and everyone is getting along.”
McFalls swallowed hard upon learning what had occurred. “I was considering coming in early this morning and gaining an advantage on everything,” he explained. “It’s both shocking and unsurprising, given the state of the world.”
Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea said he received a call about the shooting early this morning and expressed gratitude for the city’s police department’s quick response.
“Today is undoubtedly a tragic day for our community,” Honea stated. “Mueller has been an excellent ally to the city.”
Honea stated that the community is still determining the best way to assist those impacted by the shooting.
“Prayers are probably the most important thing at the moment,” Honea stated. “Mueller has a very strong family unit.”
Attempts to contact company officials this morning were unsuccessful.
Mueller Co., headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, is a subsidiary of Mueller Water Products Inc., headquartered in Atlanta. Mueller Water Products Inc. bills itself as the leading manufacturer of water distribution and measurement products in North America.
The plant in Albertville employs more than 400 people, earning the city in northwest Alabama the moniker “Fire Hydrant Capital of the World.”
Today, Smith stated, a press conference will be held.
The factory shooting occurs amid a nationwide uptick in gun violence, which has police and criminal justice officials concerned.
Within hours of Tuesday’s Alabama shooting, four women were killed and four others injured in a pre-dawn shooting at a Chicago home, police said.
And this past weekend’s toll included two fatalities and at least 30 injuries in mass shootings in Chicago, Austin, Texas, and Savannah, Georgia.
Law enforcement officials hoped that a spike in homicides in the United States last year would subside as the country lifted coronavirus restrictions, but they have remained higher than they were prior to the pandemic.
“There was hope that this would be a statistical outlier that would eventually fade away,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, explained.
“That has not occurred. That is what truly concerns chiefs about the possibility that we are entering a new era in which we will see a reversal of two decades of declines in these crimes.”