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UPDATED: Trooper who likely saved lives during Samson mass shooting has died

Longtime Wiregrass lawman Michael L. Gillis passed away at the age of 59 years old.
Longtime Wiregrass lawman Michael L. Gillis passed away at the age of 59 years old.(State of Alabama)
Published: Jan. 24, 2021 at 1:38 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2021 at 11:18 AM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Michael L. Gillis of Samson, AL, passed away on Saturday, January 23, 2021 in a Dothan hospital. He was 59 years old.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at the First Baptist Church of Samson with Rev. Sam Totten officiating. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery with Warren Holloway Ward Funeral Home of Geneva directing. The family will receive friends at the church on Tuesday beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Mike was born on March 24, 1961 to J.C. and Mabel Gillis. Mike worked with the State Bureau of Investigations for 30 years. At the time of his retirement, he was serving as a special agent. He also served his country faithfully for 33 years in the United States Military. During his military career, he was deployed twice. Mike’s greatest love was his family; however, he was very passionate about serving his community and served 38 years with Samson Volunteer Fire Department.

In addition to his father, he was preceded in death by his uncle and aunt, Neal and Jo Ann Pridgen.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Shannon Gillis of Samson; one son, Chris Gillis (Jessi) of Samson; one daughter, Hannah Gillis of Samson; one granddaughter, Maci Lynn Gillis of Samson; and his mother, Mabel Gillis of Samson.

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Mike Gillis, a well-known law enforcement officer in the Wiregrass, passed away Saturday from complications related to COVID-19.

Gillis, of Samson, has served in a variety of roles through the years including time as an Alabama State Trooper and an investigator with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. He was also very active in Samson and Geneva County serving the community in various capacities over the years.

He was a member of the Alabama National Guard fighting the war on terror in Iraq, a former member of the Geneva County Board of Education and worked with Samson Fire and Rescue through the years.

In March of 2009, Gillis responded to reports of a shooting in Samson. He intercepted a vehicle driven by Michael McLendon headed to Geneva. Gillis, while under heavy gunfire, was able to provide other law enforcement critical information that led to the shooter being stopped before he could take additional actions.

The shooting is one of the deadliest in Alabama history. For his efforts, Gillis was presented an Award of Valor by United States Attorney Leura Canary.

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