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Hartselle officer says he's no hero after ending a hostage situation

By Deangelo Mcdaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Officer Chip Reynolds doesn't consider himself a hero.

Yes, he's glad that a Morgan County grand jury commended him for ending a hostage situation involving an armed-robbery suspect. And, he was proud when the City Council adopted a proclamation recognizing his bravery.

But, hero?

"No," Reynolds, 32, said. "I did what any other officer would have done. The biggest thing to me in all of this is that I had the support of my fellow officers in blue."

You'll probably have a different opinion from the modest officer when you consider his actions on Oct. 20.

Reynolds works third shift, which begins at 10 p.m. here. He came to work early because a number of events were happening in the city.

He was in the Police Department break room reading reports from the previous three days when a dispatcher said something was happening at Hometown Market, a grocery store about 200 yards from the department.

"There was a robbery in progress," said Reynolds, who at the time was a member of the Special Response Team.

With three officers, he went to the grocery store.

"I went to the back of the store with another officer," he said. "There were two other officers in the front."

The robbery suspect, Larry Dean Maples, 49, of Hartselle, went back into the store and grabbed a hostage when he spotted Hartselle officers, police said.

"I heard the officers say over the radio that we had a masked gunman running back into the store," Reynolds said.

When Maples left the store with a 27-year-old female hostage, Reynolds was between 15 and 20 yards from him with his weapon drawn.

"She was kicking and screaming and pleading for her life," Reynolds said. "The suspect was yelling at us to get back or he was going to kill the hostage."

Initially, Reynolds said he couldn't do anything to stop the threat because the hostage was in the line of fire and two officers were in a crossfire.

As Maples moved across the street to the Hartselle Medical Center parking lot, Reynolds exposed himself to the masked gunman.

"I had no cover, but I didn't think about that," he said. "He could have shot me, but this wasn't in my mind. My training took over. I was trying to stop the threat. He was a moving target, and I was waiting for the right moment to control the situation."

Reynolds, now about 40 yards away from the suspect, fired one time, hitting Maples in the shoulder.

Maples and the hostage fell to the ground. According to the investigation, the suspect was still reaching for what turned out to be a BB pistol after he was shot.

"I think his actions in the face of what was going on are extraordinary," Mayor Dwight Tankersley said. "It takes a special person to have the calm to do what he did."

The grand jury that commended Reynolds thought the same. "The shooting may well have prevented harm to other officers and civilians," jurors wrote in their report.

Reynolds, a Hartselle officer for about eight years, said no officer wants to use lethal force.

"But it happens sometimes and that's just part of the job," he said. "This is the first time I've had to do it and I hope the last time."

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