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2 Ala. deputies shot, 1 mortally wounded, sheriff says

Brad Johnson, 32, was on life support Thursday and will ‘continue to save lives’ as an organ donor, police said


Bibb County deputy Brad Johnson was critically wounded in a shooting on June 29, 2022 in Alabama.

Carol Robinson

By Carol Robinson, Howard Koplowitz

BIBB COUNTY, Ala. — The shooting of two Alabama deputies has stunned the community, and those who know the two wounded public servants.

Brad Johnson, 32, has served with the sheriff’s office just over seven years. He is engaged to be married and is the father two daughters.

His father, Steven Johnson, said his son was shot in the head. The deputy on Thursday remained on life support and was going through the organ donor process.

Chris Poole, a 30-year-old husband and father, has been released from UAB Hospital and is recovering at home.

“We ask that you continue to remember Deputy Brad Johnson’s family in your prayers as they’re still with him at the hospital and he’s going through the final processes to continue to save lives,’' said an emotional Bibb County Sheriff Jody Wade.

“It’s been said that a coward dies a thousand deaths, but a hero but one,’' the sheriff said. “Brad Johnson was a hero.”

Steven Johnson on Thursday afternoon posted a photo of his son in the hospital and wrote this: “ This is the toughest thing I have had to do. This is the son that called me just a few hours before hand to ask me to help him find a good place for a beach trip. A son that loved playing the guitar,fishing,riding four-wheelers, and so much more. This is not the way your day is suppose to end. Blue line forever.”

“The community is just shocked that anything like this could happen nearby,’’ said Centreville Mayor Mike Oakley. “It’s shock and outrage.”

Both deputies, Oakley said, are some of the best law enforcement officers in the county.

“They’re friends and community leaders,’’ the mayor said.

“They’re two of the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for,’’ said friend Brittany Russell. “They both are amazing men.”

Johnson, a former volunteer firefighter, has been described as a genuine sole that served the community with pride.

“Today is a sad day in our community,’’ according to a post by Brierfield Ironworks State Park. “We grieve with the Johnson family for the loss of a true hero, Brad Johnson.”

“Brad worked as a deputy for our sister park in the past and has helped us with special events every year. We are heartbroken.”

“Not only have we lost a brother law enforcement officer,’’ said AHIC Chief Scott McDonald, “I have lost a friend. I’m praying for the Johnson family. Rest east, brother. We’ve got it from here.”

Alana Godwin, who previously worked at DHR, said Johnson and Poole often accompanied her on case visits.

“I never once worried about my safety with them because I knew they were the kind that would defend me no matter what it cost,’’ Godwin posted on Facebook.

“Even though I’m not an officer, I felt a certain camaraderie and always smiled when I was in a pinch and would call Chris because he would say, ‘I’ve got your six.’’'

“Both of these men have become dear friends with whom I’ve still had conversations with after leaving the department,’’ Godwin wrote. “Brad has always been a perfect gentleman and came by to help me pick up trash recently after a mental health fair.”

“We talked about his engagement, and he beamed,’’ she wrote. “We always discussed our kiddos. Chris was the only colleague who showed up to my mom’s funeral which means more than words can say.”

Poole, a father to a son and daughter, formerly served as a Bibb County dispatcher and a corrections officer at the Bibb County Jail before becoming a deputy and later becoming an investigator.

Earlier this month, he became the first Bibb County deputy to graduate from the National Computer Forensics Institute. “He’s so smart, and we are so proud of him,’’ Russell said.

Poole also has been lauded for his devotion to the community.

“The CAC has had the honor and privilege of working with Investigator Chris Poole on many cases. He is one of the most caring and diligent law enforcement partners that we have ever met.”

“Not only is he a great friend, but an amazing daddy and husband to his kids and wife,’’ Russell said.

“Not only is he a goofy guy and will always keep you laughing, he is one of the sweetest and most caring,’’ she said. “He will drop whatever he is doing and help anyway he can.”

Russell said Poole is determined. “He won’t stop until he meets his goal,’’ said.

Mayor Oakley described both officers as community oriented and family oriented.

“They would stop in City Hall just to stick their head in and shoot the bull,’’ he said.

Johnson, he said, always took his K9 to school events. “He was the face of the sheriff’s department for the school kids,’’ he said.

“They’re both good folks, good people,’’ the mayor said.

Austin Patrick Hall, a 26-year-old convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history, was named as the suspect in the shootings. He was captured early Thursday about a half mile from the crime scene.

He is being held at the Shelby County Jail and will be arraigned – likely on capital murder charges – in Bibb County on Friday, said District Attorney Michael Jackson.

Oakley said he and the community are concerned about why Hall, who has been arrested on at least 46 criminal charges since he was 17, was out of jail.

“How was this lifelong felon allowed to walk and something like this happen,’’ the mayor said.

“How can we better identify people with habitual problems so that it would not come to something like this? Maybe we need to do a better job of identifying people whose lives could lead to this.”