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Suspect in shootout with Lee County deputy identified

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:13 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Law enforcement agencies are releasing more details in Wednesday morning’s gunfire exchange that left both a Lee County deputy and a suspect injured.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said one of his deputies pulled over a motorcyclist, later identified as John “Squirrel” Cross, for a traffic violation around 8:40 a.m. in the 700 block of Lee County Road 121, located in the Beauregard community.

Jones said Cross allegedly sped away and crashed his bike a few yards away. When the deputy drove up to check on him, Cross is said to have fired a gun, striking the deputy in the hands and arm.

Law enforcement officers stand near the area where a Lee County sheriff's deputy was shot...
Law enforcement officers stand near the area where a Lee County sheriff's deputy was shot Wednesday morning on County Road 121 in the Beauregard Community.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Jones said the officer returned fire and both were struck at least once during the exchange.

The deputy, who has not been identified by name, was taken by medical helicopter to Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. Jones said he was responsive on the scene and is expected to survive.

The sheriff said responding deputies found the motorcyclist a short distance from the scene. He’d apparently crawled into the woods.

“Just based on what I know at this point in time, I believe the deputy acted completely within professional protocol and did what he was trained to do,” Jones said.

The Opelika Police Department has been asked to conduct an independent investigation into the matter at the sheriff’s request.

John Cross will be charged with attempted murder following a gunfire exchange with a Lee County...
John Cross will be charged with attempted murder following a gunfire exchange with a Lee County deputy on Oct. 20, 2021.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Opelika police said Cross, a 42-year-old Lee County resident, was taken to a hospital in Georgia where he remains under guard by the Muscogee County (Ga.) Sheriff’s Department.

A Lee County warrant for attempted murder has been obtained on Cross. He will be detained in Muscogee County upon his release as the extradition process to Lee County begins.

Opelika police spokeswoman Allison Duke said Cross will be housed in a neighboring county’s jail when he returns to Alabama.

The Opelika Police Department is leading the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Opelika Police Department detective division at 334-705-5220 or the Secret Witness Hotline at 334-745-8665. Tips can also be submitted through the Opelika police mobile app.

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