BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Gene Williams says his car and his house on 61st Steet South in Birmingham have been broken into several times in recent weeks, and he’s been the victim of a home invasion before. Thursday morning when he woke up to a loud knock on his back door and an unfamiliar face peering through a window, he says he grabbed a 22-caliber rifle.
Witnesses and police say that a white SUV with two men backed into Williams’ driveway around 8:30 a.m. Birmingham police say one of the suspects went around the house checking for points of entry, and eventually he got a door open.
“He got about halfway, partially in and I fired a round and hit him,” said Williams.
Williams says he thought he shot the intruder in the chest, but later found out it was the stomach area.
He says he took a second to make sure he wasn’t walking out into a gunfight, then followed the intruder outside.
Witnesses tell us that one man ran off behind the vacant house next door, but Williams says he didn’t see that.
However, he did see a man clutching his midsection make a run for a white SUV that had backed into his driveway. Williams took aim and fired again.
“As he was leaving the driveway I blew out his back window,” said Williams.
Across the street, a construction project manager was inside a metal storage container to get some plumbing supplies when it was hit by a stray bullet.
“I thought somebody was throwing rocks against the side of the Conex, fooling around,” said Thomas Johnson. “And the tractor-trailer guy right here was unloading his truck or trailer, and he came running in the Conex door right here and jumped in the door and he said, ‘Get down, man. It’s gunfire, gunfire,’” said Thomas Johnson.
Birmingham police tell WIAT 42 they arrested two suspects in the burglary Thursday morning. One was at a local hospital with a gunshot wound. Lt. Sean Edwards said that the two suspects were awaiting formal charges.
“There’s a good chance this homeowner will not be charged. You know, I don’t foresee. He was in his home, he has the right to bear arms and protect himself and his family,” said Edwards. “At this point I don’t foresee charges, but it is early in the investigation.”
Despite some fairly successful crime prevention strategies in Woodlawn, including a Citizens on Patrol initiative, area resident Barbara Nettles says there have been quite a few break-ins in the Woodlawn community.
“Even the machinery over here at Wood Station, four batteries were taken out of the vehicles when they first started and we don’t need this,” said Nettles. “Woodlawn is trying to grow. We don’t need this anymore. It’s time for this to stop. We don’t need this, and thank God to Gene he stopped it.”
“I just pray that all is well with him, and we’re gonna be behind him 100 percent,” she continued.
Williams says he had previously faced a home intruder with a 12-gauge shotgun.
“They threw something through the window and came in the house so I shot at them. It’s just a sign of the times we live in, I guess. The type of people you have to deal with unfortunately. People tell me I should move, but I say no, because evil is everywhere,” said Williams.
Williams says he has no idea why he keeps getting targeted, but he says he was raised in this neighborhood and he plans to stay.
“It’s the idea of thinking that someone’s going to run you off that don’t belong here. They don’t own it, never put anything into, never invested in it whatsoever, and if you allow it then they win,” Williams said. “It ain’t happening. I’m not going to be intimidated like that. I’m just, it’s just not, it’s not happening. And I’m very adamant about that.”