Sgt. Ralph Williams, an investigator with the sheriff’s office, said late Wednesday night a man wearing a ski mask approached a female and held her at gunpoint after the alleged gambling operation had closed for the night.
“Another female on the property observed the masked man pointing a gun at her aunt,” Williams said. “She feared for her aunt's safety and proceeded to run over the suspect with her vehicle, critically injuring the suspect.”
The suspect was transported to UAB Hospital by helicopter for medical treatment, but his name is being withheld at this time because the investigation is still ongoing and formal charges have not been filed.
Williams said when members of the Sumiton Police Department and Sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene, they discovered illegal electronic gaming machines inside a utility building behind the residence. A search warrant was obtained and 17 gaming machines were seized from the building.
Investigators said there is a possiblity that other illegal gambling establishments who have been operating covertly at various locations around the county may have also been robbed.
“However, nobody’s reported it. And we believe the reason for that is not only out of fear of the robbery suspects, but also the civil repercussions they could face if law enforcement discovers these illegal gaming operations,” Sheriff John Mark Tirey said. “People need to be aware that these criminals are targeting these locations because they also know no one is going to report their crimes.”
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said illegal gambling halls are not committing “victimless” crimes.
“There are parents blowing their entire paychecks at these places, and now, it is obvious that there is a violent element that is brought about by them as well,” Adair said. “My office and the sheriff’s office are doing what we can to shut down these gambling halls and seize an destroy their machines.”