Thursday, Kimberly Police Department K9 Officer Nick O’Rear, age 33, has died from his wounds. O’Rear was shot and killed during a vehicle pursuit.
“I am profoundly grieved to hear of the passing of the Kimberly Police Officer who was shot in the line of duty last night. The safety of our citizens and the rule of law is forefront on the minds of our officers who willingly risk their lives on behalf of ours. His sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
“I have just spoken with the fallen Kimberly Police officer’s family and offered them my deepest sympathies for their tragic loss. See my full statement below. #ThinBlueLine #alpolitics” Ivey said on Twitter.
Governor has called and spoken with the parents of Officer O’Rear to offer her deepest condolences for them during this difficult time.
“Kimberly PD Officer Nick O’Rear’s end of watch has come too soon,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fellow officers. This tragedy is yet another heartbreaking reminder of the dangers all law enforcement face while we enjoy the safety they provide us. We must ask ourselves how we can all join together to bridge the respect deficit for law enforcement that is directly and indirectly leading to violence against our brave men and women of the badge. Enough is enough.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said, “We have lost yet another hero: Officer Nick O’Rear of the Kimberly PD, who was assisting in a vehicular pursuit when he was ambushed by the car’s driver. Officer O’Rear was the father of two children, with another on the way. Pray for his family and fellow officers. #ThinBlueLine”
The group Guardians of the Thin Blue Line said, “Rest In Peace Kimberly Police Department K9 Officer Nick O’Rear, age 33, who was shot and killed during a vehicle pursuit. End Of Watch: February 04, 2020 (first of two shot and killed to be posted today) Please, we ask, #SayHisName – Officer/Brother Nick O’Rear – not just “RIP” or a run of ridiculous emojis. When you SAY HIS NAME, you will REMEMBER HIS NAME and A HERO REMEMBERED … NEVER DIES.”
Around 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Warrior Police Officers attempted to stop a vehicle on Interstate 65 South near exit 281 in northern Jefferson County. The driver chose to flee. During the pursuit, O’rear joined in the chase. Officer O’Rear got in front of the suspect’s vehicle and that’s when someone from inside the fleeing vehicle began shooting at the Police vehicles.
Officer O’Rear was struck by gunfire while driving and crashed his cruiser a short distance away. He was rushed to UAB Hospital by Warrior firefighters in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. The suspects continued to flee. Around 1:00 a.m., four people were apprehended near Highway 78 in Dora and taken into custody just moments after a Blue Alert was issued for the vehicle and suspect. On Wednesday, Police Officer Nick O’Rear succumbed to his gunshot wound and was pronounced at the hospital.
Nick is survived by his expectant beloved, a son, a daughter, his K9 partner Stella, and his parents.
He had been with the Kimberly PD for one year.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families, both of blood and of Blue, to the hospital staff, to all who came running to assist and to the residents of Kimberly. -from all of us at True Blue Warriors,” Guardian of the Thin Blue Line said.
This is the first Line Of Duty death the Kimberly Police Department has ever had in their history.
“All he wanted to do was be a police officer,” Ashville Police Chief Ed Hampton told ABC 33/40.
Nick O’Rear is a native of St. Clair County and after graduating from the police academy in July 2018 he began his police career with the Ashville Police Department. After a year he moved to the Kimberly Police Department.
“His heart was into being a police officer 100 percent,” Chief Ed Hampton said. “All he wanted to do was be a police officer.”
Chief Hampton added that O’Rear was a good father and a great officer who was eager to learn, adding that they were sad to lose him when he made the switch to Kimberly. Hampton said that he was “devastated” by the news that O’Rear had been killed.
The suspected cop killer, Preston Johnson age 37, has been charged with capital murder of a Police Officer. This carries the possibility of the death penalty.
Seven law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in Alabama in 2019.
(Original reporting by ABC 33/40 TV’s Alexander Derencz contributed to this report.)
Thieves targeting food stamp recipients via text messages
The Alabama Department of Human Resources on Wednesday warned the public that thieves are targeting people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit cards, commonly known as food stamps, through text messages.
The text messages typically request personal information, including Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and SNAP electronic benefits transfer card or PIN numbers, the department said in a press release.
Some text messages also falsely claim people have been selected to receive food stamps.
“Identity thieves are using new tricks in hopes of catching SNAP recipients off guard during this time of heightened uncertainty,” said Alabama DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner in a statement. “It is so important to take the precautions necessary to protect your identity, along with the integrity of this vital program. Following these simple but effective tips can greatly reduce your risk of harm.”
DHR recommends these tips to protect against the scam:
- Never provide personal information to an unfamiliar person or organization.
- If a text message seems like a scam, delete it. Do not reply.
- Do not click on any links in an unexpected text message.
- Beware that scammers often pressure victims to “act now!”
- If an offer or claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do not trust caller ID. Scammers can use “spoofing” technology to disguise their phone numbers.
SNAP recipients who are unsure if a request for information is legitimate should contact their local DHR office at a verified phone number. Contact information is available here.
The Food Assistance Division of DHR administers the SNAP program in Alabama. More information about the program can be found here.
John Paul Dejnozka, the “Southwest Molester,” dies after testing positive for COVID-19
John Paul Dejnozka, 76, died on Sept. 9 after testing positive for COVID-19, becoming the 21st Alabama inmate to have died after being confirmed to have the disease.
Dejnozka, who was dubbed the “Southwest Molester,” was convicted in 1980 in connection with the assault of at least 18 women in their homes, attacking, torturing and raping some of them, according to news accounts. He was sentenced to 830 years on convictions of two counts of rape, two counts of assault with intent to maim, one count of burglary and assault with intent to ravish, 11 counts of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree burglary.
Dejnozka, who was serving at the Holman Correctional Facility, was tested for COVID-19 after exhibiting symptoms of the disease, according to a press release from the Alabama Department of Corrections. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment, where he remained until his death.
ADOC also announced that six other inmates at Holman prison and one at Ventress Correctional Facility have tested positive for COVID-19. In total, 393 Alabama inmates have tested positive for coronavirus, of which 45 remain active, according to ADOC. As of Sept. 6 the state had tested 1,886 of Alabama’s approximately 22,000 inmates for COVID-19.
There have been 372 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Alabama prison workers, while 340 have since recovered, according to the department. Two workers at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women died after testing positive for the disease.
Governor announces grant to aid domestic violence victims amid COVID-19
Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday announced approval of a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help domestic violence victims access help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence is using the funds to provide direct services and support during COVID-19 for victims of family, domestic and dating violence, Ivey’s office said in a press release.
“The global pandemic has made many aspects of our lives more challenging, including the ability to seek help due to domestic violence,” Ivey said in a statement. “I commend the work of the staff at the coalition who are working every day to help those in need during the additional challenges posed by COVID-19.”
The coalition supports shelters throughout Alabama and operates regional 24-hour crisis telephone lines for victims needing information or seeking to escape violent situations. It also provides training and technical assistance for police and others who encounter domestic violence situations and helps develop public policy to reduce domestic violence and ensure victims receive proper services.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available as part of the CARES Act.
“ADECA stands with Gov. Ivey in support of the coalition and other likeminded organizations as they work throughout the state to provide vital help to domestic violence victims,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said in a statement. “The partnership between ADECA and the coalition helps ensure that this level of assistance will continue to be available throughout the state even during a pandemic.”
Appeals court upholds Lowndes County capital murder conviction
Attorney General Steve Marshall said this week that the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of Deandra Marquis Lee on capital murder during a robbery.
Lee, 24, is from Montgomery and was convicted in Lowndes County Circuit Court in October 2018 for the 2012 murders of 9-year-old twins Jordan and Taylor Dejerinett and their 73-year-old caregiver, Jack Girdner.
On Friday, the Court of Criminal Appeals released a decision upholding Lee’s conviction.
On June 3, 2012, Terrye Moorer dropped off her twins, Jordan and Taylor Dejerinett, with Girdner, their caregiver who was also Moorer’s friend from church.
That evening, when Moorer drove to Girdner’s residence to pick up her children, no one was home so Moorer filed a police report. On June 5, 2012, the bodies of Girdner and the two children were found on a dirt road off of Alabama Highway 21 in Lowndes County.
The police determined that Lee was a chief suspect based upon reports that he was seen driving Girdner’s white Mercedes on the day of the murders and the last call made to Girdner’s phone was from a number belonging to Lee’s mother.
Lee’s cousin, Joe Hamilton, testified that on June 3, Lee took Hamilton home in a white Mercedes that had a skateboard and a bag in the back.
Moorer testified that her children had similar items with them when she left them with Girdner. Lee’s fingerprints were also found inside Girdner’s vehicle.
Lee told several people that he murdered Girdner but not the children.
Curtis Robinson, who was incarcerated with Lee in Autauga County, testified that Lee “went there to commit burglary and it turned to something else.”
Robinson testified that Lee told him he killed Girdner and the two children.
Lowndes County District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer’s office prosecuted this case and obtained a guilty verdict. Lee was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Lee subsequently sought to have his conviction reversed on appeal.
The Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Division handled the case during the appeals process, arguing for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals to affirm Lee’s convictions.
Alabama Attorney General Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General John Davis for his successful work on this case and thanked the State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney and her staff for their valuable assistance in defending the capital murder conviction.