A former Alabama state policeman shot a district attorney outside his office building on Thursday, prompting law enforcement officials to kill the gunman, authorities said.
The prosecutor, Gregory Griggers, had returned from lunch and was sitting in his car in Demopolis, Ala., Around 1 p.m. When he was attacked, authorities said.
The former state trooper, identified as Steven Smith Jr., opened fire, broke the window of a car and shot Mr. Griggers in the face, said Michael W. Jackson, the district attorney in the state's Fourth Judicial Circuit. from the Mr. Griggers region. .
Two law enforcement officers who were nearby shot Mr. Smith and killed him, Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Griggers, the district attorney for the 17th Judicial Circuit of Alabama, was treated for minor injuries in a hospital and was released, Jason Roberts, a captain of the State Bureau of Investigation, told a press conference broadcast by a local news site.
Mr. Jackson said it looked like Mr. Smith could have been pointing at Mr. Griggers.
"The boy was waiting," Jackson said. "It looks like he was waiting to shoot."
Chief Tommie J. Reese of the Demopolis Police Department told reporters that Mr. Griggers was shot but did not say where his body was.
Local officials immediately recognized that Mr. Smith's previous name and occupation were related to a decades-old case involving a shooting in the home of a Circuit Court judge from the same district as Mr. Griggers. According to an appeals court decision issued in 1998, Mr. Smith was interviewed as a possible suspect in a gunfight at the home of Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr., who remains in the position.
In 1996, it was reported that someone shot a shotgun twice at the home of Judge Hardaway, the first black judge elected for that bench of the Circuit Court. Mr. Smith, who was a state police officer at the time, was interviewed in connection with the shooting but was not arrested, said the court's decision.
According to a report by The Associated Press at the time, Jeff Sessions, then the state attorney general, handled the case.
Mr. Smith was upset about the way the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was handling the investigation and expressed his criticism in newspaper articles, irritating his superiors, who had instructed not to discuss the investigation, the decision said. When Mr. Smith continued to publish his criticism, he was fired.
Mr. Smith challenged his dismissal to the State Court of Civil Appeals, which decided not to do so in 1998. He was hired in 1982, said Captain Roberts.
Patrick D. Mahaney, who was an Assistant to the Attorney General of the Department of Public Safety at the time, said that the case of gunfire reported at Judge Hardaway's house was never resolved.
Mr. Mahaney, who defended the department on appeal, said that Mr. Smith had a history of misconduct in his work, and that act of insubordination was the last straw.
Mr. Mahaney, who is now a lawyer in private practice, said he had not heard Mr. Smith's name in years and was surprised by the news.
"To shoot a acting district attorney? I was stupefied, "he said in an interview. "I was very surprised, particularly by someone who was an officer of the law."
Mr. Mahaney said that, to his knowledge, Mr. Griggers had no connection to the case in the 1990s. Mr. Griggers was appointed district attorney for the 17th Judicial Circuit in 2003, According to local news reports.
In a statement, US Attorney Jay E. Town, of the Northern District of Alabama, said Mr. Griggers is a "dedicated public servant and an honorable man."
Mr. Jackson, the district attorney, said the shooting was a clear reminder of the potential dangers of his career.
"We have a very serious job and we deal with dangerous people all the time," he said. "It's something you do not think about a lot."