Police chief applauds officer who comforted child victim of bloody machete attack
Police Chief Ron Tyler recognized the officer, who rushed to aid the little girl and her siblings, as an example for others
By William Thornton
FLORENCE, Ala. — Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler used social media to recognize the work of one officer who responded during Wednesday’s reported attack by one man against six members of his family.
Tyler singled out Officer Justin Whitten on the department’s Facebook page for his conduct during the incident.
Comparing him to the Biblical figure Benaiah, Tyler said, “there are men and women in law enforcement, men like Officer Justin Whitten and others within the Florence Police Department, who out of concern for their village, would choose to go down into a pit on a snowy, winter day to do battle with a lion.”
Members of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and the Florence police department responded to 145 County Road 57 Wednesday on reports that a man had attacked six family members with multiple weapons.
According to court documents filed this morning, the man, identified as Kyle Lyn Seeley, 34, began his attack by launching a Molotov cocktail into the home shared by his parents and his children. He fired shots at his parents before cutting his adult brother with a machete, injuring him seriously, prosecutors say.
“He then turned his sights on his own children and wounded each of the children in front of each other,” a court document states. “The terror and trauma suffered by the children cannot be over-stated.”
Seeley later barricaded himself in a building on the property and a brief standoff followed before he was flushed out with tear gas. When he attempted to flee, the Florence Lauderdale SWAT team took him into custody, prosecutors say.
In a picture Tyler shared at the scene, Whitten can be seen comforting one of the children.
“Thankfully, this little girl’s injuries are not evident in this photo,” Tyler wrote. “With the help of others, Justin Whitten responded into the pit, provided treatment to her and her siblings, rushed all three back to his patrol car, and got them out of danger to an ambulance which had staged a mile or so away.”
Seeley’s brother was flown to UAB Hospital where he underwent surgery and is recovering. Three minor children received treatment on the scene, with one taken to North Alabama Medical Center. The child was later treated and released. Two others were flown to Children’s of Alabama and are expected to be released soon.
Seeley faces six counts of attempted murder for each of the victims on the scene. He already faces sentencing on two prior convictions - third degree burglary and escape - and could face other charges. Prosecutors are asking that he be held without bond.
Tyler went on to single out Whitten as an example for other officers.
“These are the men and women of law enforcement,” Tyler wrote. “Not perfect, always improving. You’re always invited to go into the pit after the lions. Come join us.”
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