From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
CLAY –In a saga that is playing out like a movie plot, four men are in custody awaiting formal charges of capital murder and kidnapping on Tuesday in connection to the homicide of Carlos Gray of Clay on Monday night. But they are not suspected in Gray’s murder.
The four, who have not been formally identified yet, are suspected in connection to the kidnapping and murder of Darryl Jermaine Thomas, 21, of Center Point, the man sheriff’s detectives believe killed Gray.
Detectives believe the four suspects kidnapped and murdered Thomas in retaliation for Gray’s murder. Thomas’ body was found just before 3 p.m. on Tuesday on a dirt road near 3rd Place in Lipscomb. One of the suspects in the kidnapping of Thomas was a close friend of Gray’s, detectives learned.
“Instead of telling us who the suspect was they decided to take the law into their own hands,” said Chief Deputy Randy Christian in a press conference. “I guess they wanted to send a message and they did.”
The story began when Gray, a former defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers, North Carolina State University, and Pinson Valley High School, was found shot to death at his home on Balboa Terrace in Clay, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Christian said that the motive for the shooting may have been robbery.
“It’s all shocking but in a lot of ways we’re not surprised,” he said. “We all know about the drug culture and the violence that comes along with that.”
At 10 p.m. Monday, deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were called to the residence to report on a shooting complaint. When they arrived, they found Gray dead from apparent gunshot wounds.
Officers later learned that Gray was seen by his girlfriend about an hour earlier when she left the home and discovered his body when she returned.
According the sheriff’s office, officers searched the residence and found marijuana along with digital scales, a Glock handgun with an extended magazine and an AK 47 with a large capacity magazine.
Detectives developed information at the scene that pointed to Thomas as the suspect in Gray’s shooting death.
Tuesday morning, the Sheriff’s Office investigated a kidnapping that was reported at Old Springville Road in Jefferson County that possibly could be related to the murder of Gray.
Deputies responded at around 11 a.m. to a call at a convenience store on the 2100 block of Old Springville Road. An adult male there told deputies that he and Thomas were kidnapped at gunpoint by five men at the parking lot of an apartment complex.
The man told deputies that there were three suspects in a white Chevrolet Avalanche while there were two in an Infiniti Sedan. Afterwards, they were driven north on Old Springville Road as the Sedan followed. The victim said that he was able to escape to the store where he called for help.
The Infiniti was located after a description of the cars were broadcast to deputies. The car was found and stopped close to the 1900 block of Old Springville Road, according to the sheriff’s office. Two adult males were taken into custody and were questioned.
The white Avalache carrying Thomas was last seen traveling north on Old Springville Road and has not yet been located, according to the JCSO statement.
By Tuesday afternoon, sheriff’s detectives were conducting a homicide investigation after a body was discovered on a dirt road near 3rd Place in Lipscomb.
A passerby reported that they had discovered a body while driving along a dirt road at the old Lipscomb dump.
Deputies arrived to find an adult male deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. That body was later identified as Thomas
Sheriffs Detectives enlisted the aid of the U.S. Marshal’s Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force and the Metro Area Crime Center to locate the Avalanche and the other kidnapping suspects.
The Marshal’s Task Force located the Avalanche and one suspect in Hoover late last night and took him into custody. They located another suspect at his home and took him into custody as well. Both were questioned by detectives before being taken to the Jefferson County Jail to await formal charges that are expected “no later than tomorrow,” Christian said.
“We got a little bit more to do on this,” Christian said. “We want to make sure that we get all those involved in kidnapping and murder. We believe that there may be one more suspect but we can’t connect him.”
The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are expected.