A man who says he is the suspect in last night's Copper Top Bar shooting in Tuscaloosa has been arrested in Jasper. The shooting left 17 people injured, one of the victims in very critical condition and three others in critical condition.
Jasper Police Chief Connie Rowe says the department took a call reporting that a man claiming to be the Tuscaloosa shooter was at the FedEx location on Highway 78 in Jasper and had "expressed the desire to turn himself in." Jasper police officers responded to the store and took him into custody without incident.
Jasper police say the man who claims to be the Tuscaloosa shooter is Nathan Van Wilkens. He has only been arrested and not yet charged.
Just before noon, Tuscaloosa Police Sgt. Brent Blankley confirmed that the suspect in the Copper Top Bar shooting was in custody. U.S. Marshals and Tuscaloosa police officers traveled to Jasper to take the suspect into custody. U.S. Marshals are now transporting the suspect to Tuscaloosa, according to Jasper Police Captain Larry Cantrell.
Cantrell says when the suspect was arrested, he told Jasper police that he was hoping that Tuscaloosa police officers would shoot and kill him.
Ken Barfield, the owner of the FedEx where the suspect was arrested, said the man paced in front of the store before finally walking in. Barfield described the man as "a muscular guy with lots of tattoos." He says the man seemed nervous and sweaty, but he did not appear to be armed.
After entering the store, Barfield says the man told him, "Yep, I'm the one they're looking for." When Barfield asked him what he meant, the man responded, "I'm the one who shot all those people in Tuscaloosa."
Barfield says he called 911 and explained the situation to the operator while also trying to keep the man calm. The store's owner, who was the only employee inside the FedEx at the time, says it took police about 8 minutes to show up. During that time, he says he just tried to stay calm and keep the man calm as well.
"Common sense and calmness will prevail most of the time," Barfield said.
At a 1 p.m. news conference, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson confirmed that the suspect was in custody and that he was being returned to Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa police will not release the suspect's name or photo until he has been charged. Anderson says he will not be charged until the investigation is complete. As for the charges, Anderson says they anticipate multiple counts of attempted murder and firearms charges along with a count of firing into an occupied business.
Anderson also stated that they are not sure if the Tuscaloosa shooting is related a shooting that happened in Northport before midnight. The chief says they are still trying to "connect the dots."
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