SHEFFIELD - The Sheffield Police Department again finds itself mourning the loss of a beloved member of its force.
Officer John Christian Nix died Monday from a self-inflicted bullet wound, Police Chief Ricky Terry said.
"It is with a very heavy heart that the Sheffield Police Department is sad to report the passing of Officer John Christian Nix," Terry stated in a release Monday. "The Sheffield Police Department was dispatched to his residence where officers found officer Nix with a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
Nix joined the department on July 26, 2017, the chief said.
"He was an outstanding police officer and was loved by his fellow officers and the community," Terry said. "We are very thankful for his years of service. There are just not enough words to express how saddened we are. We are asking for everyone to pray for the Sheffield Police Department and officer Nix's family."
The news came out on the same day that Sheffield police Sgt. Nick Risner and Lt. Max Dotson received the Richard B. Biddle Award For Law Enforcement Excellence from the Florence and Greater Shoals Rotary clubs.
Risner was killed in an Oct. 1 shootout in the Southgate Mall parking lot in Muscle Shoals, during which Dotson also was struck in the chest but was protected by a bulletproof vest.
The suspect, David Martin, faces numerous charges, including capital murder in the incident.
The threat of a wintry mixture of precipitation is causing closings in many local school systems Thursday.
The closings include city schools in Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia, as well as Lauderdale County Schools.
Colbert County Schools classes are not scheduled to return until Monday, but any teacher in-service activities for Thursday are cancelled.
In addition, Covenant Christian School and Shoals Christian School are closed Thursday. Mars Hill Bible School will have virtual instruction only.
A wintry mix is expected to arrive between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Thursday, and there is a chance of it returning during the early evening when temperatures drop below freezing again.
Muscle Shoals City Schools today joined Sheffield City Schools in requiring masks for students this year, while Florence City Schools will require them for grades K-6.
The Muscle Shoals and Florence school board made the decision today, while Sheffield made it Friday.
Muscle Shoals started classes on Friday, while Sheffield started Monday. Florence starts on Aug. 19.
The University of North Alabama announced today they will require masks indoors this year.
The decisions come as COVID-19 cases continues to rise, including the variants.
MONTGOMERY — Parole was denied Today for an assistant women's basketball coach at Lawson State Community College who raped a team member in 2004 while the team was at a tournament in the Shoals.
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied parole for Boris Andrico McCord, according to Matthew Estes, communications director for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
McCord is serving a life sentence stemming from the incident, which involved a 19-year-old victim, which occurred at a Sheffield hotel during a tournament at Northwest-Shoals Community College.
He was convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of first-degree sodomy and is in the Elmore Correctional Facility, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.
He is in the Elmore Correctional Facility, according to the department.
Thus far, he has served 15 years, 8 months and 1o days, according to corrections records.
SHEFFIELD — The Alabama Department of Transportation advises motorists near the projects for a new U.S. 72/U.S. 43 bridge over Ashe Boulevard to expect stoppages Thursday morning while girder placement is conducted.
Traffic will be stopped for about five minutes as each girder is unloaded, ALDOT spokesman Seth Burkett said.
"Motorists are advised to plan additional travel time or use alternate routes," Burkett said. "Please reduce speed and be prepared to stop."
Bridge Builders of Alabama is the contractor for the $4,998,141 project that started in October and is expected to be completed in Spring 2022, he said.
"The old southbound bridge has been demolished and a new bridge is currently under construction," Burkett said. "Traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction on the northbound bridge, which will be demolished and reconstructed after the southbound bridge is complete."
MONTGOMERY — Parole was denied today for a convicted murderer from a 1993 Sheffield case, authorities said.
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied parole Wednesday for Willie Lee Turner, said Matthew Estes, communications director for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Turner was sentenced to life for the 1993 beating death of Calvin Ricks, according to records. He beat Ricks to death with a baseball bat.
Turner also had priors, including a conviction for second-degree robbery in Lauderdale County. He was sentenced to 10 years in that case, and served 3 years, 9 months of that sentence before being paroled.
The parole board also heard three other cases with local connections this week, Estes said. Those include:
• Denying parole for Paul Eugene Hearld, who has served more than 28 years of a life sentence on 31 convictions of third-degree burglary in Lauderdale, Tuscaloosa and Elmore counties.
Hearld also has priors on one count of first-degree escape and two counts of second-degree escape, second-degree receiving stolen property, possessing a pistol after a conviction of a violent crime and two counts of first-degree theft of property.
• Granting parole for Quinn Paul Erwin, who has served more than 10 months of a five-year sentence on two Lauderdale County convictions of possession of a controlled substance.
• Denying parole for Steven Troy Hampel, who has served 11 years, 9 months of a 25-year sentence for a Lauderdale County second-degree assault conviction.
Hampel also has prior convictions on two counts of third-degree burglary and one count each of second-degree receiving stolen property and second-degree theft of property.
SHEFFIELD - A drug bust netted two arrest and more than 10 ounces of cocaine and other drugs.
Authorities arrested Willie Bernard Jones, 50, and Britney Howard Reaves, 36, said Curtis Burns, director of the Colbert County Drug Task Force.
Burns said they both are charged with trafficking cocaine and first-degree possession of marijuana.
In addition, Jones is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, due to methamphetamine that was in his possession, Burns said.
He said Reaves also is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance because the ICE form of methamphetamine was found in her possession. She also faces two counts of possession, due to Xanax and Ecstasy pills she had.
They were taken to the Colbert County Jail and bail was set at $25,000 for Jones and $40,000 for Reaves, Burns said.
The task force, Colbert County Sheriff's Office and Sheffield Police Department executed the warrant Tuesday at 805 S.E. 20th St., which is the residence where the suspects live, Burns said.
"During the search we located over 10 ounces of cocaine," he said. "It was mostly powder cocaine but some of it was crack. We also found ICE, marijuana and pills, along with scales. We also found several guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition."
Burns said the 10 ounces of cocaine is 10 times the minimum amount needed to be considered trafficking.
TUSCUMBIA - The suspect in a Nov. 23 convenience store robbery that ended when the clerk shot him in the shoulder has been arrested, authorities said.
Jirehn Jones faces a first-degree robbery charge in that crime, as well as two robbery charges in Sheffield, police said.
He bonded out from the Colbert County Jail on Wednesday night on $90,000 bail per case, which is $30,000 per charge, Police Chief Tony Logan said.
Jones' attorney, Tim Case, confirmed his client turned himself in Wednesday evening.
"I've been retained by Mr. Jones and his family to represent him," Case said. "We're looking into the accusations."
McKayla McGarity is suspected of being his accomplice as the driver of a getaway vehicle that crashed near Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield following the Nov. 23 robbery, police said. She faces robbery charges and remains in the Tuscumbia City Jail, which is where female county prisoners are housed, Logan said.
In addition, Florence and Muscle Shoals officials said Jones could be a suspect in robberies in those cities.
"It's still an active investigation for us, and I'm pretty sure a couple of other agencies," Logan said.
Authorities said Jones was shot while robbing the Fuel City convenience store on U.S. 72. He was hit in the shoulder and treated at Huntsville Hospital.
A handgun was found at the crash scene near Helen Keller Hospital shortly after the Fuel City robbery occurred.
SHEFFIELD — A nearly $5 million project to build near overpasses over Ashe Boulevard starts Monday and is expected to continue into Spring 2022, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The department is alerting motorists that contractors will begin setting up traffic control for the replacement of the U.S. 72/U.S. 43 bridges Monday.
Bridge Builders of Alabama is the contractor on the $4,998,141 project, which involves demolishing and reconstructing the overpasses, according to department officials.
The work will cause traffic to be reduced to one lane in each direction.
Initially, the inside lanes on each bridge will close so temporary crossovers can be made for diverting traffic. After that, all traffic will shift to one bridge while the other bridge is demolished and replaced.
Motorists are advised to prepare for longer travel time or use alternate routes, and driving cautiously, including reducing speed.
MONTGOMERY — A woman convicted of a 1988 Sheffield murder had parole denied this week, authorities said.
In a separate case, parole also was denied for a convicted sex offender from a Colbert County case who failed to comply with Alabama's sex offender registration laws, officials said.
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles denied paroles for Rosalyn Saffold Williams and Billy Jerome Henderson, said Terry Abbott, director of communications for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.
Williams has served 31 years, 6 months of a life sentence in the death of Tommy Dorsey Howard, according to court records. She is accused of using a butcher knife to kill him at a Sheffield residence.
She was paroled in 2003 and 2016, but violated parole both times, Abbott said.
Henderson has served 1 year, 1 month of a 10-year sentence for his 2013 conviction in Colbert County for the violating the registration law, according to records.
He had been convicted in 1999 of sexual abuse and received a 5-year sentence, records state. He then was convicted twice in Walker County of violating the sexual offender registration law.
Two hearings for inmates in local cases are set for Thursday.
One is for Michael Eugene Black, who has served 9 years, 4 months of a 25-year sentence for his 2011 convictions of first-degree assault and leaving the scene of an accident with injury, records state.
Black was convicted of running over Tony Jones, manager of the Spring Valley Water Department while Jones was working on a water line on Dawson’s Store Road, near Tuscumbia, records state. Black lived near the site.
The other hearing is for Melvin Douglas Mason, who has served 16 years of a 25-year sentence on a 2005 attempted murder conviction, records state. He shooting his former girlfriend outside her house in 2004.