published Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Reward sought in Rainsville, Ala., shooting

TO HELP

The assailant in the Aug. 24 shooting at Fred's Store at 584 McCurdy Ave. is described as man about 5 foot 10 with a medium build, last seen fleeing the store wearing dark clothing, dark sunglasses and a head covering. He drove away in an older model red or maroon Honda car. Anyone with information about the shooting can contact the Rainsville Police Department at 256-638-2157 or the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office at 256-845-3801.

Authorities in DeKalb County, Ala., are calling for a reward for information in the two-weeks-old shooting at a Fred's Super Dollar store in Rainsville that left one man paralyzed from the waist down and the other unable to use his right leg.

Rainsville Police Chief Charles Center said a reward — hopefully put up by the town and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley — may generate a tip from someone who knows about the person who shot the two store employees on Aug. 24 just after the store closed.

Fyffe, Ala., residents Josh Nance, 24, and Matt Whitt, 39, were shot when a would-be robber approached the front doors of the Fred's just as one of the two men entered the store and locked the door behind himself at 9:08 CDT.

Rainsville police say the assailant tried the door, was told the store was closed and drew handgun and fired twice, striking one of the men at the door and the other as he tried to run away.

A cashier inside the store was uninjured and called 911 for help, according to police.

Center said Friday that store surveillance video — only available from inside the building — shows a man at the front doors, the muzzle flashes of gunshots from what is believed to be a .45-caliber handgun firing through the front-door glass and the stricken employees.

Investigators hope a reward will give them the information that leads them to a suspect, he said.

"I talked with the sheriff (Jimmy Harris) yesterday and they sent in the letter," Center said.

He said he thought the governor was in favor of setting a reward but no amount had been determined.

"We're going to try to get the City Council to do a little something, too," the chief said. Again, the amount that may come from the council is still pending, he said.

He said the reward amount will be announced as soon as it's known.

Meanwhile, Nance and Whitt continue to recover. Nance is paralyzed from the chest down while Whitt has lost the use of his right leg, police said.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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