Cops: Tuscaloosa gunman targeted person in bar

Police released this photo of the suspect wanted for the shooting at a downtown bar early Tuesday, July 17, 2012.
Tuscaloosa Police Dept.

(CBS/AP) TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A gunman who fired into a crowded bar near the University of Alabama campus was targeting someone, police said Tuesday. Authorities searching for the gunman were looking into whether the rampage, in which 17 people were wounded,  was connected to an earlier shooting.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said at least 11 people were hit by gunfire; some of the wounded had injuries from ricochet fire or other causes.

One person was also wounded in the earlier shooting at a home a couple of miles away. That shooting occurred about 45 minutes before the 12:30 p.m. shooting at the Copper Top bar.

Authorities have a description of the suspect. Surveillance video shows him calmly walking up to the bar, carrying a gun.  They said he used a military-style assault weapon to unload two bursts of gunfire on the crowd at the bar.

He fled on foot after the shooting, according to Anderson, with several patrons giving chase.  

Hospital spokesman Brad Fisher said 17 people were treated at DCH Regional Medical Center. Most of the injured were hit by bullet fragments or bits of masonry.

He said the two most seriously hurt were in the Intensive Care Unit, one in critical condition and the other in serious condition. Three people were hospitalized in fair condition and 12 more were treated and released.

Anderson said at a morning press conference that the individuals were "blessed that they weren't killed."

Witnesses inside the bar described a bloody and chaotic scene. Elizabeth Walters was inside when the shooting started. She said glass and metal fragments were flying everywhere as people ran and crawled to get away.

Eyewitnesses told CBS Affiliate WIAT that the bar was hosting its weekly pool tournament when the gunfire broke out.

Riley Dunn, a University of Alabama senior who was injured in the shooting, said there was one gunshot, then about 20 seconds later "that's when he really started firing them off," and everyone scattered.

Dunn, who was shot in the leg, told WIAT that he didn't see the gunman shooting. "All we seen was sparks and people ducking and the glass busting," he said. "I felt something hit me. We all took off and sort of hid."

There were trails of blood in the area around the Copper Top, Justin McDaniel told the Tuscaloosa newspaper. McDaniel said he wasn't hit by the gunfire, but his shirt was stained with other people's blood.

The Copper Top is part of a row of bars and restaurants near a downtown square in an area that's home to several nightspots and is popular with students from the university. The business is about a block from Tuscaloosa City Hall.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department posted a picture of the suspect on its Facebook and Twitter pages, and are working with federal officials to enhance the video taken at the scene.