Geneva County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Myers gazed stoically Wednesday at a throng of journalists, his soft drawl and calm demeanor belying the nightmare that visited his rural Alabama community, exacting a horrific toll on his own family.
His words, however, told a different story.
“I don’t know how to handle this situation,” said Myers. “I need help from my friends and my family and everybody’s prayers. I just don’t know what to do.”
Myers’ wife, 31-year-old Andrea D. Myers, and their 18-month-old daughter, Corrine Gracy Myers, were among 10 victims slain Tuesday by Michael McLendon in a two-county shooting spree. The couple’s younger daughter, Ella K. Myers, just 4 months old, was in fair condition and awaiting surgery at a hospital in Pensacola, Fla., after being wounded in the attack. His son, 4, was not shot.
As Myers met with reporters and asked Americans to pray for Ella, friends and relatives of the other dead and wounded victims were grappling with how their loved ones came to be in McLendon’s line of fire.
McLendon, of Kinston, had quit his job at a sausage plant in nearby Elba last week. While he killed five of his relatives, at least three of his victims appeared to be selected at random. Andrea Myers and her daughters apparently were just in the wrong place at the wrong time as they visited neighbors who were relatives of the shooter.
Here is a list of the dead:
Lisa White McLendon, 52, of Kinston, Michael McLendon's mother. Police say the woman was shot to death along with four dogs at the home she shared with McLendon in Kinston. He then set the house afire.
18 months, of Samson, daughter of Geneva County Deputy Josh Myers. Corrine, her mother and sister, residents of Samson, were shot as they visited neighbors who were relatives of the gunman.
Andrea D. Myers, 31, of Samson, mother of Corrine and wife of Deputy Myers.
James Alford White, 55, Samson, identified by police as McLendon's uncle.
Tracy Michelle Wise, 34, of Samson, identified as McLendon's cousin.
Dean James Wise, 15, of Samson, identified as Tracy Wise's son and McLendon's second cousin.
Virginia E. White, 74, of Samson, identified by police as McLendon's grandmother.
James Irvin Starling, 24, a pedestrian who was apparently shot at random on a city street in Samson.
Sonja Smith, 43, a customer at the Inland Gas Station on Main Street in Samson.
Bruce Wilson Malloy, 51, who was traveling in a vehicle on Highway 52 as McLendon was fleeing Samson for Geneva, where he later took his own life.
The following were injured in the shootings: Greg McCullough, 49; state Trooper Mike Gillis; Jeffrey Lynn Nelson, 50; Geneva police Chief Frankie Lindsey; Ella K. Myers, 4 months old, daughter of Deputy Myers.