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September Preliminary Hearing Set For Accused Tuscaloosa Shooter

By: Chris Pow, al.com
By: Chris Pow, al.com

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- The man accused of wounding 18 people in a shooting rampage in Northport and Tuscaloosa last week will have preliminary hearing in Tuscaloosa County District Court on Sept. 7 at 9 a.m.

Nathan Wilkins, 44, faces charges including 18 counts of attempted murder and two counts of shooting into an occupied building following shootings at a Northport home and the Copper Top, a downtown Tuscaloosa bar.

Wilkins' attorney is listed as Joseph Van Heest, public defender for Tuscaloosa County. Wilkins requested court-appointed counsel last week in an affidavit of indigency. Initial appearance paperwork was filed Wednesday after Wilkins was presented with warrants at the Tuscaloosa County Jail.

Two victims in the Copper Top shooting remained at DCH Regional Medical Center today. Mario Fritz Winkler remains in serious condition and Renardo Jackson is still in good condition.

Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit Sgt. Kip Hart said police have not been able to locate the man who police believe was likely targeted by Wilkins and have not recovered the AK-47-style assault rifle that investigators say was used in the shootings.

The first shooting at a home in Northport Monday night appears to have been the result of a case of mistaken identity, Hart said. Witnesses have told police that the man who was likely targeted and a man who lives at the house in Northport are both black and have the same nickname.

The shooter used a racial slur to call out for a black man before shooting Bruce Bankhead, a white man who lives at the house on Fourth Avenue East. "KKK" was found scratched into two vehicles at the scene and into a power box at the house, Hart said, but investigators have not found race to be a "driving issue" behind the attacks.

Wilkins is accused of injuring 17 people at the Copper Top, firing shots into the bar from outside early Tuesday.

Wilkins is also a suspect in a series of fires set to property belonging to Capstone Oilfield Services, where Wilkins worked until March when he was fired following a fistfight with a co-worker. Investigators continue to process evidence collected in that case, Hart said, and no charges have yet been filed.

Wilkins remains in the Tuscaloosa County Jail with a $2 million bond.

al.com


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