Man accused in Alabama bar shooting linked to earlier attack

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:54pm EDT

1 of 2. The Tuscaloosa Police Department released this still image from video of a suspect after a gunman opened fire in a bar wounding at least 16 people, four of them critically, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, early on July 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tuscaloosa Police Department/Handout

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - The man accused of injuring 17 people in an assault-rifle attack at a popular Tuscaloosa, Alabama, bar has also been charged with attempted murder in connection to an earlier shooting in a nearby town, police said on Wednesday.

Nathan Van Wilkins, 44, surrendered to police on Tuesday, hours after they said he fired shots at the Copper Top bar in downtown Tuscaloosa.

On Wednesday, police said shell casings from the bar shooting matched those found at the scene of another shooting at a Northport residence late Monday.

A 30-year-old man opened the home's door after hearing a knock, and Wilkins started shooting, police said. The victim, who has not been identified, was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds.

The bar shooting happened about an hour later.

Wilkins' motive for the shootings is unclear, but the Jasper, Alabama, police captain who arrested him said Wilkins claimed he wanted to be killed by the police.

Wilkins now faces a total of 18 counts of attempted murder, plus charges of shooting into an occupied building and dwelling. He is being held on $2 million bail.

Five of the victims from the bar remain hospitalized. One is in serious condition, two are in fair condition and two are expected to go home on Wednesday, said DCH Regional Medical Center spokesman Brad Fisher.

He did not have condition information for the Northport victim.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jackie Frank)

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