By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The day after a shooting inside Walmart in Trussville, the Trussville Police Department is in full force in the most concentrated crime-fighting effort in the department’s history.
Police Chief Eric Rush said he is “taking Walmart back” after seeing an increase in crime at the location off Chalkville Mountain Road. He has mobilized a specialized unit to the area that will look for crime and enforce the law.
“It won’t only be visibility, but they will be making arrests and enforcing the law,” Rush said. “They are going to arrest you if you are breaking laws in our city.”
The department has already put a focus on the area, but Rush said the shooting shed light on a growing problem and that’s why he developed and initiated the crime-suppression detail. Some of the crimes that have increased in the area are shoplifting, drug activity, assaults and disorderly persons.
“The main thing is, I don’t feel like the citizens feel safe going to Walmart,” Rush added. “I don’t want to have an area anywhere in our city where our citizens don’t feel like they can go and be safe. They feel like it’s too dangerous and that’s a problem.”
Rush said similar details have been activated in other areas of the city, but never to this magnitude. The ongoing effort is meant to help citizens feel secure. The group of officers will be observing criminal activity, making arrests and writing citations.
For a short period of time, the department had a Flock Safety camera to the entrance of Walmart. The cameras help fight crime by reading license plates and alerting law enforcement to stolen vehicles, tags and to people with warrants. The camera was only a demo camera and Rush said he has since been in talks with Walmart about bringing the technology back to the area.
“We have begged and pleaded to Walmart to buy a Flock camera, at least one if not two and they have yet to move forward with that,” Rush said.
As for the Feb. 2 shooting, one person was arrested. That person was booked into the Trussville City Jail and there are several charges pending against that person including attempted murder, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm within city limits. The suspect’s identity will be released after warrants are obtained from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators said the altercation began after an argument between two employees. One of the employees called her brother and he came to the store with two others, police said. After a fistfight, the other employee involved went to his vehicle and returned with a gun, firing two shots.
No one was hurt in the shooting, but Rush said hearing the details of what happened was very frustrating.
“It was basically just an altercation and one of the individuals involved decided to go get his gun and recklessly fire rounds inside of Walmart,” he explained. “So, that frustrates me more than anything. Just the poor decision-making by people that are just so quick to grab their pistol and pull the trigger.”
People from all over northeast Jefferson County visit the Walmart in Trussville and police want them to feel safe. For anyone coming to commit a crime, Rush has a message.
“If you are coming anywhere in Trussville to participate in criminal activity, we will find you and put you in jail,” he said.